American gymnastics alternate athlete Kara Eaker tests positive for COVID at Olympics


Kara Eaker, an alternate on the United States women’s gymnastics team, has tested positive for COVID-19 in an Olympic training camp in Japan.

Al Fong, the personal coach for both Eaker and fellow Olympic alternate Leanne Wong, confirmed the positive test in an email to The Associated Press on Monday. Wong said Eaker, 18, was vaccinated against the novel coronavirus two months ago.

Both Eaker and Wong have been placed in isolation.

USA Gymnastics did not identify Eaker or Wong but said in a statement that the athlete who tested positive and another alternate would be subject to additional quarantine restrictions.

“Accordingly, on Monday, the Olympic athletes moved to separate lodging accommodations and a separate training facility, as originally planned, and will continue their preparation for the Games,” the organization said in a statement. “The entire delegation continues to be vigilant and will maintain strict protocols while they are in Tokyo.”

The positive test was the latest in a growing line of daily reports of athletes and others testing positive at the pandemic-delayed Olympics. Eaker is the first American to test positive.

“The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority. We can confirm that an alternate on the women’s artistic gymnastics team tested positive for COVID-19,” the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement. “In alignment with local rules and protocols, the athlete has been transferred to a hotel to quarantine. Out of respect for the individual’s privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time.”

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The four alternates — Eaker, Wong, Kayla DiCello and Emma Malabuyo — travelled to Japan with the six-woman U.S. delegation of world and Olympic champion Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey.

The positive test came after Eaker received what was described as a “false positive” over the weekend. Eaker took a subsequent test that was negative before testing positive again multiple times.

Biles, who is also the world champion, and the rest of the regular team have been vaccinated. Skinner, who made the team in the “plus-one spot” — meaning she can compete as an individual in Tokyo — following Olympic Trials did battle both COVID-19 and pneumonia last winter.

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Alternates have been rooming with other alternates since arriving in Japan, with the competitive team rooming with fellow competitors. All Olympic athletes and coaches have been moved to their own rooms since the positive test, with the Olympic athletes also moving to a new hotel, as was originally planned.

The Games are set to open on Friday with a state of emergency in force in Tokyo, which means almost all venues will be without any fans as new cases rise in the capital. The women’s gymnastic team begins competing on Sunday.

The U.S. officials said the test took place when the team was training just outside Tokyo in Inzai City. Team members arrived last week for the camp to great fanfare at Narita airport.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Monday reported 727 new cases in the capital. It is the 30th straight day that cases were higher than the previous week. The cases last Monday were 502.

Earlier Monday, Tokyo Olympic organizers confirmed three other new COVID-19 cases on Monday, including a media worker arriving in Tokyo and a Games staffer or official in the Chiba prefecture. (Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

3 Olympic athletes test positive in Tokyo days before Games

A third athlete at the Olympic Village in Tokyo has tested positive for COVID-19, with the Czech Republic team reporting the case Monday of a beach volleyball player who could miss his first game.

The positive case of an American gymnast, who was not identified and is an alternate on the women’s team, also was confirmed by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. 

Czech beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic could miss his opening game on Monday after a PCR test confirmed his infection. Perusic and his playing partner are due to the begin their Olympic program against a team from Latvia.

Czech team leader Martin Doktor said in a statement they would ask to postpone the game until the infected player is cleared to play.

Perusic, who said he has been vaccinated, is the second member of the Czech delegation to test positive in Tokyo after a team official’s case was reported Saturday.

He is the third athlete who was staying at the village to test positive. Two South African men’s soccer players had their COVID-19 cases announced Sunday.

The players and a team video analyst who tested positive one day earlier were moved to the “isolation facility” managed by the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.

Their 21 close contacts around the South Africa team now face extra scrutiny before their first game Thursday against Japan in Tokyo. The monitoring regime includes daily testing, traveling in a dedicated vehicle, training separately from teammates not affected and being confined to their rooms for meals.

“Although you are a close contact, you are able to do the minimum that you need to do so that you can continue your preparation for the Games while you are being monitored,” said Pierre Ducrey, the Olympic Games operations director.

Earlier Monday, before the Czech case was reported, Tokyo Olympic organizers confirmed three new COVID-19 cases, including a media worker arriving in Tokyo and a Games staffer or official in the Chiba prefecture.

Both people, who were not identified, went into a 14-day quarantine, organizers said.

The total of Games-related infections was officially 58 since July 1 before the two new cases were announced. They should be added to the official tally on Tuesday.

These resulted from 22,000 people arriving in Japan since July 1 with 4,000 of those staying in the village, Ducrey said. About 11,000 athletes are scheduled to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

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