With the Olympic Games set to kick off at the end of July, preparations for the Games are beginning in all sports, not just in swimming. In this series, SwimSwam looks at some of the leading news from outside of swimming as athletes around the world continue to prepare and qualify for the rescheduled Olympic Games which are due to begin in Tokyo on July 23rd, and Paralympic Games, which are scheduled to begin August 24th.
Positive Tests From Athletes and Staff in Tokyo Continue Flooding In
As more countries send their athletes to Japan to finish preparing for the Games, a growing trend of positive test results from athletes and staff has begun to emerge as many athletes are being forced to spend their first weeks in Tokyo in quarantine.
Since July 4th, numerous athletes and staff members have returned positive test results after arriving in Tokyo to prepare for the Games. A member of Serbia’s rowing team initially tested positive on the 4th, followed by an athlete from both Lithuania and Israel five days later. Since then, large portions of South Africa’s and Kenya’s rugby teams have been forced into quarantine following close contact with cases of the virus. Just yesterday, another six cases were reported, with five belonging to Games employees and staffers and one belonging to an unnamed athlete.
With the start of the Games only a week away, it is highly possible that if athletes arriving in Japan continue to test positive, athletes may be forced to miss their competitions due to quarantine.
Alex de Minaur Withdraws From Games After Positive Test
Originally selected to represent Australia in the men’s tennis singles and doubles competitions, de Minaur was forced to withdraw from the tournament before even arriving in Tokyo.
De Minaur, who currently stands as the 17th ranked player in the world this year, received his positive test following a first round loss at Wimbleton. Olympic athletes are required to return a negative Covid-19 test prior to departing for Japan. After taking his test, de Minaur’s returned positive, forcing his withdrawal from the Games. His doubles partner hopes to continue with his goal of competing in Tokyo alongside a different partner.
Australia’s Chef de Mission for the 2020 Olympic Games, Ian Chesterman, while disappointed, was also optimistic that the fact his case was caught so early was proof that the Olympic testing protocols were effective in their goal of protecting athletes in Tokyo.
He is the latest withdrawal from a tennis tournament in Tokyo that, wedged in between major pro circuit tournaments, is quickly losing its luster.
USA National Basketball Team Down Two Players a Week Out From Games
On Wednesday of this week, Bradley Beal, who plays for the Washington Wizards of the NBA, entered into USA men’s basketball’s health and safety protocols, removing him from the roster that was selected to travel to Tokyo for the Olympic Games. Beal was joined in his last minute departure from the team by Kevin Love, who left the team due to a lingering injury to his right calf. With Beal entering into the health and safety protocol, the US National Team also elected to place another player, Jerami Grant, into isolation out of “an abundance of caution”. Grant, as of now, remains on the roster set to begin competition in less than ten days.
Down two team members a week out from the Games, the United States was quick to name a pair of replacements. Keldon Johnson of the San Antonio Spurs and JaVale McGee of the Denver Nuggets were both announced to be joining the Olympic Team for Tokyo. Johnson had already training alongside the Olympic Team, having been selected as a member of the team helping to prepare the Olympic Team for Tokyo.
The team’s exhibition match against Australia scheduled for Friday was canceled. The team won its first exhibition game, a dominant victory over Argentina, on Tuesday. The U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams are a combined 1-5 in exhibition matches so far – an inauspicious start for the defending champions.
The United States kicks off it’s Olympic competition in just nine days, competing against France on July 25th.