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US women's gymnastics team alternate tests positive for COVID-19

Another alternate on the team was placed into isolation because of contact tracing, but Simone Biles and other favorites to win team gold weren't affected.

WASHINGTON — An alternate on the U.S women's gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19 just days before the Tokyo Olympics are set to begin, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said Monday.

Olympic champion Simone Biles was not affected, nor were any of the other favorites to win the team gold, but another alternate was placed into isolation because of contact tracing, USA Gymnastics said Monday.

Family members and a coach confirmed to multiple media outlets that Kara Eaker, from Grain Valley, Missouri, was the team member who tested positive for COVID-19. Eaker's dad confirmed that she was fully vaccinated, so it's a breakthrough case of COVID-19. So far she has no symptoms. 

Coach Al Fong confirmed to USA Today that Leanne Wong is the other replacement member of the team who has to isolate, but has tested negative. 

“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 four alternates — Eaker, Wong, Kayla DiCello and Emma Malabuyo  — traveled to Japan with the six-woman U.S. delegation.

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.

Credit: AP
Members of the US Women's Olympic Gymnastic Team and alternates celebrate after the women's U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials Sunday, June 27, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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.

Around the time that the news broke, Biles and other members of the team were posting photos of themselves in the Olympic Village.

Biles, who is also the 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 as new cases rise in the capital. The women's gymnastic team begins competing on Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.