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May 28, 2022

Coco Gauff Tests Positive for the Virus, Another Blow for the Games

Teenage American tennis star Coco Gauff announced Sunday on Twitter that she had tested positive for the coronavirus and would not be competing in the Tokyo Olympics. Her withdrawal was the latest sign that the pandemic would disrupt the Games with the opening ceremony just days away and the virus continuing to infect athletes and others involved.

“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,” wrote Gauff, 17. “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 was supposed to lead an American team of 12 players. Serena Williams, another American star, had already said she would not be at the Games, because of travel restrictions that would prevent her from traveling with her 3-year-old daughter.

It is unclear whether Gauff was vaccinated, but her busy tour schedule would have made getting jabbed a challenge. COVID vaccines were approved for people ages 16 and older in December in the European Union and the United States. In Britain, they are approved only for people ages 18 and older.

Public-opinion polls in Japan have shown tepid support for going ahead with the Games, which were already postponed by a year, and a nationwide surge in cases has cast a further pall over the event. After barring international spectators in March, organizers said this month that domestic spectators would be barred as well.

Anxiety over the Olympics has intensified as the highly contagious delta variant has been spreading in Asia. The variant is driving new outbreaks in places where transmission was once kept relatively low, but where the pace of vaccination has lagged, including Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Organizers reported more than two dozen positive coronavirus tests this weekend among people who have traveled to Japan for the event, including the first cases inside the athletes’ village.

Olympic officials defended their safety protocols Sunday, saying a strict testing regimen minimized the risk of outbreaks. At a news conference, Pierre Ducrey, operations director for the Olympic Games, said that since July 1, more than 18,000 participants had arrived in Japan from overseas and more than 30,000 tests had been conducted.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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