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2020 Tokyo Olympics May Lack Some Star Power After Multiple Athletes Test Positive for COVID-19

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Five U.S. athletes have tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the start of the Tokyo Olympics, crushing their dreams of competing in the world’s largest sporting event.

U.S. men’s basketball player Bradley Beal tested positive on July 15, which made him unable to travel to Tokyo, according to The Washington Post.

U.S. women’s tennis star Coco Gauff announced in a Sunday tweet that she had also tested positive for COVID-19. The athlete has been barred from competing in the Olympic Games, according to the tweet.

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Karak Eaker, an alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday while training in Japan, The Associated Press reported. Eaker received the coronavirus vaccine in May 2021, and no other team members have yet to test positive, according to the AP.

Katie Lou Samuelson, a fully vaccinated member of the U.S. 3×3 women’s basketball team, announced on Instagram this week that she tested positive for the virus, making her unable to compete in the games.

U.S. men’s beach volleyball team member Taylor Crabb similarly let his Instagram followers know in a Thursday post that he tested positive for COVID-19 upon his arrival to Japan, barring him from competing in the games.

Athletes and teams are not disqualified from their events, nor do they receive a penalty or point reduction, after testing positive for the coronavirus, but are instead given a “Did Not Start” status, according to Olympic Games rules set by the International Olympic Committee and International Sports Federations.

Will COVID-19 push more athletes out of the Olympics?

The positive tests were reported at least one week before the opening ceremony, as coronavirus cases continue to surge in Japan.

Tokyo reported a six-month high on Wednesday with 1,832 new cases recorded, according to the AP.

Frustrations over hosting the Olympics during a state of emergency are growing, as people marched through the Tokyo streets on Friday protesting the games, Washington Post reporter Michelle Ye Hee Lee shared in a Friday tweet.

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To mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, athletes must wear masks at all times in public, limit social and physical interactions, track their health and location through an Olympics-issued app, remain in the confines of the village bubble when not competing and receive multiple tests and temperature checks, according to the Olympic guidelines.

Athletes must also leave Tokyo within 48 hours after completing their events, refrain from tourism and sightseeing and avoid public transportation, according to the guidelines.

When high profile athletes like Gauff miss the Olympics, it impacts both the broadcasting companies as well as the IOC, according to Conrad Wiacek, the head of sports analysis at the consulting firm GlobalData.

“Taking away star power in any sport will have an impact, but for the Olympic Games and the IOC, markets such as the US are crucial given the size of NBC’s broadcast deal with the IOC as well as the revenue being generated through advertising ($1.25bn spent on advertising on NBC during the Games),” Wiacek told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Without star athletes, broadcasters will be concerned about viewing figures — the hope will be that new stars are made during the games,” Wiacek added.

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A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.

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