Tokyo Olympics: Coco Gauff withdraws from Games after positive Covid-19 test

  • The teen tennis star was expected to headline the US team as the highest-ranked American player participating this year
  • 55 people connected to Tokyo 2020 have tested positive for coronavirus; polls show most people in Japan don’t want the games to proceed
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The Olympic Games' tennis tournament, already missing the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, lost another player when Coco Gauff pulled out after testing positive for Covid-19. Photo: AFP

Just days before the start of the Tokyo Olympics, teen tennis star Coco Gauff announced she tested positive for Covid-19 and would be withdrawing from the Games. She was expected to headline the United States’ tennis team as the highest-ranked American player participating this year.

“I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for Covid and won’t be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” Gauff said in a Twitter post. “I want to wish Team USA the best of luck and a safe games for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family.”

Only 43 per cent of people worldwide think the games should be held

The 17-year-old was ready to compete in her first Olympic Games, and her selection to the US roster made Gauff the youngest Olympic tennis player since Mario Ancic made his debut at 16 in the 2000 Sydney Games.

“It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future,” Gauff wrote on Twitter.

Tokyo bans fans from Olympic events

Despite her age, the teenager stepped into a leading role on Team USA after several big names in tennis stepped away from the Olympics, citing injury and coronavirus concerns. Serena Williams confirmed she would not compete at the Games after an injury knocked her out of Wimbledon. Sofia Kenin, the highest-ranked American female tennis player at No. 4, pulled out of Tokyo due to Covid-19.

Gauff’s positive test also comes amid growing coronavirus concerns at the Olympics, as thousands of athletes, staff and media members arrive in Tokyo this week.

South Korea's main Olympic delegation arrives at Narita airport near Tokyo. The influx of so many people has Tokyo residents worried about new Covid outbreaks. Photo: EPA

Olympic organisers revealed Sunday that three residents of the Olympic Village, including two athletes, had tested positive for coronavirus, despite initially clearing arrival protocols. The South African Olympic Committee later confirmed that the three positive cases came from its men’s soccer delegation, and that the infected individuals - midfielder Kamohelo Mahlatsi, defender Thabiso Monyane and a video analyst - had been placed in isolation.

All told, 55 people connected with Tokyo 2020 had tested postive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, according to organisers. That figure does not include athletes like Gauff who tested positive before travelling to Tokyo.

Would you let the Tokyo Games go ahead?

Olympic stakeholders are required to take two Covid tests before boarding their flights, and they are tested a third time upon arrival. The frequent testing is part of a complex set of countermeasures that organisers have touted as among the most thorough at any sporting event in the world.

The precautions have not calmed fears in Tokyo, however, where the government has declared a state of emergency. Public polling indicates that a majority of Japanese residents would prefer that the Games not be held.

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