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Kara Eaker, U.S. women's gymnastics alternate, tests positive for Covid

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Kara Eaker, an alternate on the U.S. women's gymnastics team, tested positive for the coronavirus just days before the Tokyo Olympics were set to begin, officials said Monday.

The gymnast tested positive while she was at a training camp in Japan, according to her coach, Al Fong, The Associated Press reported. Fellow Olympic alternate Leanne Wong said Eaker, 18, was vaccinated against the coronavirus in May.

Both athletes were placed under quarantine.

Kara Eaker during Day 2 of the 2021 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Team Trials at the Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Mo., on June 27, 2021. (Amy Sanderson / Cal Sport Media via AP Images file)
Kara Eaker during Day 2 of the 2021 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Team Trials at the Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Mo., on June 27, 2021. (Amy Sanderson / Cal Sport Media via AP Images file)

Olympic and city officials did not release the name of the athlete, but identified her as an alternate between the age of 10 and 19 who was training for the games in Narita, about 35 miles east of Tokyo.

A statement from USA Gymnastics said that the athlete tested positive Sunday and that she and another alternate member of the team were quarantined.

Mark Eaker told NBC affiliate KSHB that he was disappointed that his daughter's dream to compete has been ruined, but that he cannot wait to see her after her isolation period ends.

"I feel bad for her, because like I said, she’s trained most of her life for this,” he said. “There was hope up to this point, even as an alternate. Now that the results have come back, that hope is gone.”

Her mother, Katherine Eaker, added that she was thankful the family took the medical advice to have their daughter vaccinated.

"If there’s something I could tell everybody: Take this seriously," she said.

After arriving in Japan on Thursday, the gymnasts stayed in their travel accommodations and practiced in venues, but did not spend time in Narita, city officials said. Another team member who was identified as a "close contact" of the gymnast has been placed "on standby."

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee identified the athlete as one of the four alternates — Eaker, Wong, Kayla Dicello and Emma Malabuyo.

"In alignment with local rules and protocols, the athlete has been transferred to a hotel to quarantine. Out of respect for the individual’s privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time," the organization said in a statement.

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