Tennis star Coco Gauff announced on Sunday that she has tested positive for COVID-19, saying she’s “disappointed” that she will no longer be able to play tennis on behalf of the United States at the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo.
“It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future,” the 17-year-old said in a statement. “I want to wish TEAM USA best of luck and a safe games for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family.”
On July 1, Team USA announced that Gauff would lead the country’s 12-person tennis team into the Olympic Games, which will be the first Olympics in 25 years without Serena and Venus Williams. Other members of the team include Jennifer Brady, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske in women’s singles, and Tommy Paul, Frances Tiafoe, Tennys Sandgren and Marcos Giron in men’s singles.
Gauff has risen to become one of the top U.S. tennis players, and reached the third round at all four Grand Slams this year, including the quarterfinals for doubles at the Australian Open and the quarterfinals for singles at the French Open. Gauff reached the fourth round in women’s singles and third in women’s doubles at her second Wimbledon tournament earlier this month.
It’s unclear if Gauff was vaccinated against COVID-19, though even if she was, data shows that “breakthrough” infections are still possible (as is the case with most vaccines). The vaccines have proven to reduce transmission of the virus and protect against the most severe symptoms, which lead to hospitalization and death.
“We are heartbroken for Coco. While we are disappointed that she will not be able to represent the United States in these games, we appreciate her adherence to our policy and for honoring our collective Team USA commitment to keeping the health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff our top priority,” the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement.
“We wish her a quick recovery and know she’ll be cheering her teammates on from home. We are quickly working through contingency plans and will share any updates when they become available.”
Gauff’s announcement makes her at least the third Olympic athlete to get infected after two South African soccer players tested positive for the virus inside the Olympic Village.
Organizers confirmed the other positive tests this weekend without identifying the athletes, except to say they were not Japanese. The South African Football Association later confirmed there were three COVID-19 cases in its delegation: the two players and one video analyst.
COVID-19 cases in Tokyo are on the rise: On Thursday, the number of new infections reached 1,308, the highest in six months, according to The Associated Press.
The Olympics begin July 24.
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