The Olympics descended into chaos on Thursday morning after American world champion pole vaulter Sam Kendricks tested positive for coronavirus.
With Kendricks training alongside Australian pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall, it placed Australia’s entire 63-strong track and field team in isolation as a precautionary measure only 24 hours before the athletics programme was due to begin.
Members of the Australian track and field team have since been cleared to return to their regular programmes after undergoing negative PCR testing.
“All three [who trained closely with Kendricks] tested negative after undergoing a PCR test this afternoon, while teammates remained in their rooms in line with AOC Covid protocols,” the Australian Olympic Committee said.
“The three, who are all vaccinated, self-reported once they heard news of the US athlete testing positive late this morning. All daily tests of the trio in the Village had also returned negative results.”
The Times reports that members of the British team were also using the same training facility as several of the Australian athletes, however, Team GB do not believe they have been in close contact.
Athletes at the Games are required to isolate for 14 days if they are deemed to have had close contact with someone who tests positive but this may not be necessary for the majority of Australian athletes unless Marschall tests positive.
Kendricks is the biggest COVID casualty of these Olympics. The 28-year-old was due to contest the gold against rival Mondo Duplantis on August 3.
Kendricks retained his world title in Doha in 2019 when he beat Swedish athlete Duplantis and was the favourite to win the gold. He won bronze in Rio in 2016.
“The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority. We are saddened to confirm that Sam Kendricks tested positive for Covid-19 and will not compete in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” the US Olympic Committee said.
“In alignment with local rules and protocols, he has been transferred to a hotel to be placed in isolation and is being supported by the USATF and USOPC staff.
“Sam is an incredible and accomplished member of Team USA and his presence will be missed. Out of respect for his privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time.”
Kendricks’ father and coach, Scott Kendricks, wrote on Instagram, a post that’s now been deleted, that his son ‘feels fine and has no symptoms.’