TOKYO – The United States women’s gymnastics team will not be camping in the Olympic Village in Tokyo.
A day before a team member tested positive for Covid-19, Simone Biles and Jordan Chiles coach confirmed that his athletes would instead be staying at a nearby hotel.
“It was also a decision we all made together”, the coach, Cécile Landi, wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “We know it’s not ideal during a pandemic. We have the impression of better controlling the athletes and our safety in a hotel setting!
USA Gymnastics said on Tuesday the team had always intended to stay in a hotel instead of the 109-acre gated section of Tokyo’s waterfront that has been reserved for the 11,000 athletes competing in the Games, which are officially starting. Friday.
Landi’s tweeted confirmation came before replacement Kara Eaker tested positive at Narita training camp, about 30 miles east of Tokyo.
Eaker and his deputy colleague, Leanne Wong, have been placed in quarantine.
“Tokyo 2020 is unable to comment on individual team performance decisions,” the organizing committee said in an email after NBC News requested comment on Tuesday.
Match organizers had gone to great lengths to keep Covid out of the Olympic Village, but on Saturday the first confirmed infection was reported – a non-athlete from Japan.
Then, on Sunday, two athletes who were staying in the village tested positive for Covid-19.
And on Tuesday, two Czechs who also lived in the village tested positive – beach volleyball coach Simon Nausch and player Ondrej Perusic. The two are isolated in an undisclosed location, the Czech team said in a statement.
The Olympics are taking place amid the pandemic and facing broad opposition from half the country who fear an influx of foreigners will worsen the crisis. According to the latest statistics, only 22.4% of Japanese are fully vaccinated.
Already dozens of people linked to the Games – both Japanese and foreigners – have tested positive for Covid-19, and a state of emergency was imposed on Tokyo this month to prevent the virus from spreading further more.
But that means the incoming athletes had to overcome a battery of tests and other hurdles to compete in Tokyo, and there won’t be any fans in the stands to cheer them on once they do.
“We understand the public concern over the positive cases that have been reported so far, including the Athlete’s Village, and we will continue to address these cases appropriately based on the protocols we have established with the advice of medical experts, ”said Tokyo 2020 President Seiko. Hashimoto said Tuesday. “Since July 1, so far, nearly 30,000 people have arrived from abroad, including 31 people who have tested positive for Covid, which means the infection rate is around 0.1%.”
Katie Distler contributed.