In a devastating blow to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, tennis wunderkind Cori Gauff announced on Sunday that she would not be attending after testing positive for COVID-19. Hers is the latest and largest instance in a series of high-profile athlete exits due to the ongoing pandemic, which has raised questions about the legitimacy of the upcoming 2021 Olympics.
The United States Tennis Association mentioned the possibility of replacing Gauff on the USA tennis delegation, but even if Gauff's spot is filled there are still additional vacancies in other delegations. Six British olympians are quarantining in Tokyo after it was discovered that their flight to Japan had contained someone who tested positive for COVID-19. South African footballers Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi were also discovered to have contracted the disease after they arrived at the Tokyo Olympic Village. Bradley Beal and Jerami Grant, who play on the US Olympic basketball team, are similarly unlikely to attend after being placed under health and safety protocols.
These announcements come in the midst of a wider rise in COVID-19 cases among the Japanese public. Though Japan reined in the original outbreak with zest, a second wave began in the spring and cases have been mounting in recent weeks. Now, with teams from hundreds of countries arriving in Japan for the Olympics, observers have begun to dread that the event could spread the disease on a massive scale. To combat this, Olympic organizers have taken the unprecedented step of prohibiting spectators from attending.
The Tokyo Olympic Games begin on Friday, July 23, 2021.
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