US women’s gymnastics team alternate tests positive for COVID days before Olympics

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A woman walks past the Olympic rings in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO (NEXSTAR) — An alternate on the United States women’s gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19 in a training camp in Japan, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said Monday.

The USOPC did not say if Olympic champion Simone Biles or any of the other favorites to win the team gold were isolated because of contact tracing. The positive test was the latest in a growing line of daily reports of athletes and others testing positive at the pandemic-delayed Olympics.

The alternate who tested positive for COVID-19 in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics has been identified as 18-year-old Kara Eaker, gymnastics coach Al Fong, of GAGE Center in Missouri, confirmed to WDAF.

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

Eaker finished seventh overall in the U.S. Gymnastics Trials in June. She was joined by GAGE teammate Wong as alternates for the team.

Wong posted on her Instagram story, “Prayers for a speedy recovery for one of our teammates.”

The alternates are rooming and training with the alternates. While they have been traveling to training along with the actual team, they have been split into groups, with the team working on one apparatus while the alternates work on another.

“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 USOPC statement said. “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.”

The U.S. women’s team dealt with what USA Gymnastics called a “false positive” over the weekend for an unidentified athlete but the ensuing test results for the athlete were negative, according to the organization.

Biles, the defending world champion, and the rest of the regular team have been vaccinated.

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 with new cases rising 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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