TOKYO — The U.S. men’s national basketball team traveled to Tokyo on Monday without guard Zach LaVine, who entered coronavirus health and safety protocols.
In a statement, Team USA said it was hopeful LaVine could take up his place in Japan later this week. The U.S. men’s basketball team had reshuffled its roster last week after it lost guard Bradley Beal to health and safety protocols and forward Kevin Love withdrew from participation.
U.S. women’s basketball also suffered a blow with the news that Katie Lou Samuelson, a member of the 3x3 Olympics team, would miss the Games following a positive test result. Samuelson said she was fully vaccinated.
“Competing in the Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and I hope someday soon, I can come back to realize that dream,” Samuelson, 24, wrote in an Instagram post.
Earlier Monday, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee confirmed that an alternate on the women’s gymnastics team had tested positive for the coronavirus while in training in Chiba Prefecture outside Tokyo.
Despite being vaccinated, Kara Eaker, 18, of Grain Valley, Mo., began a 10- to 14-day quarantine, her coach, Al Fong, said in a text message. He added that she “feels fine.”
Fong said that Leanne Wong, another alternate and Eaker’s teammate at his GAGE Center gym in Blue Springs, Mo., was also under quarantine, expected to last until about July 31, because she is considered a close contact. Wong, who is 17 and from Overland Park, Kansas, said at the Olympic trials last month that she had not been vaccinated.
The opening ceremony is Friday and the first competitions are Wednesday. But organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are struggling to manage public anxiety about the Games after a cluster of coronavirus cases that threaten to overshadow the festivities.
As about 20,000 athletes, coaches, referees and other officials have poured into Japan in recent days, more than two dozen of them have tested positive for the virus, including three cases within the Olympic Village. An additional 33 staff members or contractors who are Japanese residents working on the Games have tested positive.
Olympics organizers have said their measures — including repeated testing, social distancing and restrictions on movement — would limit, but not eliminate, coronavirus cases. The Games, originally scheduled for 2020, were postponed a year in the hopes the pandemic would have eased and they could herald a triumphant return to normal.
Instead, they have become a reminder of the staying power of the virus and have fed a debate over whether Japan and the International Olympic Committee have their priorities straight.