An alternate on the United States women’s gymnastics team has tested positive for Covid-19 at an Olympic training camp in Japan. The defending all-around champion Simone Biles was not affected, nor were any of the other favourites to win the team gold, but another alternate was placed into isolation –because of contact tracing, USA Gymnastics said yesterday. “One of the replacement athletes for the women’s artistic gymnastics team received a positive Covid-19 test on Sunday,” the USAG statement said. Covid-19 cases among Olympics teams likely ‘tip of the iceberg’: expert It added that the local government had determined that the athlete, whose name wasn’t given, and one other replacement athlete needed to be subject to further quarantine, so the rest of the team had moved to alternative accommodation. “The entire delegation continues to be vigilant and will maintain strict protocols while they are in Tokyo,” the USAG said. 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 unnamed gymnast was the first American. Biles, meanwhile, unable to go anywhere except her hotel and practice sessions, sent out a call one recent afternoon: “Tell me a secret – I’m bored.” Her 4.4 million Instagram followers responded with everything from revealing personal problems to how they skipped school, prompting the US athlete to dispense reactions to the disclosures and life advice, accompanied by candid selfies. Some said they had lost their sense of smell, received a secret inheritance and were getting surprise presents for their mothers. One person even confided they were pregnant – to which 24-year-old Biles responded with a big grin and “Congrats!” Covid-19 cases rise despite Games pledge of 85 per cent vaccination rate Because of the pandemic, the Olympics are being held under strict protocols, including daily virus tests for athletes, to prevent any further spread in a country where most people have yet to get a vaccine and still want the Games cancelled or postponed again. At the Olympic village, athletes have been kept in a “bubble” and prevented from being tourists in Tokyo to reduce the possibility of Covid-19 spreading. Czech beach volleyball player Ondřej Perušič could miss his opening game on Monday after a PCR test confirmed his infection. Perušič and his playing partner were due to the begin their Olympic programme against a team from Latvia. Two South African footballers and a video analyst tested positive for the coronavirus at the Village, organisers announced on Sunday, and a further 21 players and staff members of the South African squad were designated close contacts on Monday, just three days before their first match. But Games organisers played down the risk of a cluster emerging, saying there have been “no significant bumps” so far. “The IOC and Tokyo 2020 are absolutely clear that the Olympic Village is a safe place to stay,” Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya told reporters. “The important thing, I have to tell you, is about the response to the positive cases.” Takaya said there had been 61 positive cases connected to the pandemic-postponed Games so far. But that represents only a fraction of the thousands of tests carried out, he added. “We cannot say there will be no positive cases within the Olympic committee, given the situation that we have a massive number of people engaged within this project,” Takaya said. “But there are no significant bumps, in terms of the positivity rate, compared to the same number found in any other place.” Will Tokyo Olympics with no fans affect how athletes perform? The Olympic Village, a complex of apartments and dining areas in Tokyo, will house 6,700 athletes and officials at its peak when the Games get under way. The Games will be largely held without spectators to prevent infections. The Japanese capital remains under a coronavirus state of emergency and has been battling a sharp uptick in cases. Tokyo Olympics sponsor Toyota said it would not run any TV ads during the Games or send executives to the opening ceremony, as the event struggles for public support. “Toyota officials will not attend the opening ceremony, and the chief reason behind it is there will be no spectators,” Toyota spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto said. ‘Anti-sex’ beds rumours fly at Tokyo Olympics Around 60 Japanese companies have ploughed a record US$3.3 billion into Tokyo 2020. Their hopes of a marketing bonanza have been tempered by the spectator ban, although they can still expect exposure from international broadcasters. Meanwhile, a man believed to be a Ugandan athlete who went missing last week from his pre-Olympic training camp in western Japan has been spotted on a surveillance camera at JR Nagoya Station, about 200 kilometres from where he was staying, a police source said Monday. Julius Ssekitoleko, a weightlifter who was staying in Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, went missing Friday after leaving a note at his hotel saying he wanted to work in Japan as life in his home country was difficult. The city and his team have been looking for him with help from the police.