American Kendricks out for COVID-19 as pandemic casts pall on Games

Jun 21, 2021; Eugene, OR, USA; Sam Kendricks places second in the pole vault at 19-2 1/4 (5.85m) during the USA Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

American double world champion pole vaulter Sam Kendricks and rival German Chiaraviglio of Argentina were ruled out of the Olympics on Thursday after testing positive for COVID-19, sending a chill through the Games as infections spiked again in the host city.

U.S. officials confirmed that Kendricks was ruled out of the Games due to a positive test, prompting members of the Australian athletics team to briefly isolate in their rooms.

Swedish world record holder Armand Duplantis told reporters he had not been in contact with his American rival.

“I have been super lucky just not to have come into contact with him,” he said. “All the pole vaulters are pretty spooked out right now.”

Argentina’s Chiaraviglio confirmed on social media that he was out of the Games as well, and was isolating in a hotel.

In Tokyo, where pandemic restrictions are mostly voluntary outside the “Olympic bubble”, daily infections hit a record 3,865. Daily cases nationwide topped 10,000 for the first time, domestic media said.

The government was set to declare a state of emergency in four prefectures outside of Tokyo and extend current ones in Tokyo and Okinawa until the end of August, broadcaster NHK said.

Still, organisers have reported 193 COVID-19 cases related to the Games, a miniscule number given the tens of thousands of people involved in the event.

“The Olympic population is the best tested population, it’s living separate from the Japanese people, it’s tested every day, it’s highly vaccinated—high vaccination rate,” International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach told Reuters on the sidelines of a fencing event.

“It’s a bubble, and the bubble holds very well.”

BIG RIVALRY

Japan’s Aaron Wolf and Shori Hamada grabbed gold medals in judo finals, bringing the host nation’s haul to 15, and boosting them past China, at 14, and the United States with 13.

Wolf, whose father is American and mother Japanese, threw South Korean Cho Gu-Ham to secure a dramatic ippon victory that ended more than five minutes of gruelling sudden-death overtime in the men’s 100kg final.

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