American pole vaulter Sam Kendricks will be forced to miss the Olympics after testing positive for Covid, with the knock-on effect sending the entire 63-member Australian track and field team into isolation in Tokyo.
“The health and safety of our athletes, coaches, and staff is our top priority. We are saddened to confirm that Sam Kendricks tested positive for Covid-19 and will not compete in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” the US Olympic Committee confirmed in a tweet on Wednesday night, adding that the athlete had since been “transferred to a hotel to be placed in isolation.”
(1/3) The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority. We are saddened to confirm that Sam Kendricks tested positive for COVID-19 and will not compete in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
— USOPC News (@USOPC_News) July 29, 2021
The news, which was first relayed by Kendricks’ father in a now-deleted Instagram post, came amid reports from Reuters and Japanese media that two people involved in the Olympics had been hospitalized with Covid-19, citing organizing committee spokesperson Masanori Takaya. He noted that the two cases were not serious, though offered no other information, pointing to privacy concerns.
Not long after two-time world champion Kendricks was forced to bow out of the competition, the Australian Olympic Committee announced that members of the country’s track and field team would isolate in their rooms, adding that they were “now undergoing testing procedures in line with Australian Olympic team protocols” in light of Kendricks’ infection.
Australian pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall had been training with Kendricks, and the Aussie team have now been locked down at the Olympic Village as a result. The track and field events get underway in Tokyo on Friday, with the pole vault scheduled for Saturday.
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The two cases of Covid hospitalizations linked to the Olympics were the first to require such treatment, though the Tokyo organizing committee has reported a total of 193 related cases since July 1, 24 of which were tallied on Thursday in Japan. Seventeen of the new infections were residents of Japan, while the rest hailed from abroad.
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams also stressed that, given the strict and frequent testing regime in place for athletes and staff, it was unlikely they could spread the virus more broadly into Tokyo. He said, “They really are living in a different, parallel world, to all intents and purposes.”
READ MORE: Japanese PM Suga says record number of Covid cases ‘not a problem’ for the Olympics despite growing pressure
The games kicked off last Friday and run until August 8. The Japanese capital is currently operating under a state of emergency, amid a steep spike in coronavirus infections. On Wednesday, 3,177 cases were reported, setting a new record for two days in a row.
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