An alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, tested positive for the coronavirus just days before the Tokyo Olympics were set to begin, officials said Monday. Olympic and city officials did not release the name of the athlete but identified her as an alternate between the age of 10 and 19 who was training for the games in Narita, about 35 miles east of Tokyo.
The gymnast was later identified as Kara Eaker, who tested positive while she was at a training camp in Japan, according to her coach, Al Fong. Fellow Olympic alternate Leanne Wong said Eaker, 18, was vaccinated against the coronavirus in May. Both athletes were placed under quarantine. 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.
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 have tested positive after arriving in Japan.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee had identified the athlete as one of the four alternates — Eaker, Wong, Kayla Dicello, and Emma Malabuyo. “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 organization said in a statement.
today we celebrate kara eaker as an incredible gymnast and person! here's one of her divine beam routines pic.twitter.com/hLlhY0COH8
— tal (@endojaeger) July 19, 2021
Biles and the rest of the regular team have been vaccinated. Skinner, who made the team in the “plus-one spot” following Olympic trials — meaning she can compete as an individual in Tokyo — had both COVID-19 and pneumonia last winter.
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 Friday with a state of emergency in force in Tokyo, which means almost all venues will be without any fans as new cases continue to rise in the capital. Japanese authorities said Monday that 21.6% of the nation’s 126 million population is fully vaccinated.
— Ricky (@RickyG_TV) July 19, 2021
The women’s gymnastics team begins competing on Sunday.