U.S. Pole Vaulter Sam Kendricks Tests Positive for Covid-19 at Olympic Games

U.S. Pole Vaulter Sam Kendricks Tests Positive for Covid-19 at Olympic Games
Sam Kendricks celebrates after the the men's pole vault final at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar on Oct. 1, 2019. (Photo: Hassan Ammar, AP)

U.S. pole vaulter Sam Kendricks tested positive for covid-19 at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan on Thursday, according to the Twitter account of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Kendricks, who holds the U.S. record for pole vaulting, reportedly has no symptoms but has been forced to withdraw from the Games and enter hotel quarantine in Tokyo.

“We are saddened to confirm that Sam Kendricks tested positive for COVID-19 and will not compete in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” the committee tweeted early Thursday, U.S. time.

“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,” the Twitter account continued.

“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.”

Athletes from other countries that were training in the same Tokyo facilities as Kendricks are now in self-isolation as they await their own tests. At least 63 members from the Australian track and field team are currently waiting in their hotel rooms because they’ve been classified as close contact of Kendricks, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Members of Australia’s track and field team at the Tokyo Olympic Games are isolating in their rooms as a precautionary measure following news of a COVID positive finding with a member of the US track and field team,” the Australian Olympic Committee told the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday.

“Members of the Australian track and field team are now undergoing testing procedures in line with Australian Olympic team protocols.”

Curiously, Kendricks’ father and co-coach posted and then deleted an Instagram post that confirmed his son’s covid-19 diagnosis. It’s not immediately clear why the post was deleted.

“Today in Tokyo, officials informed Sam that his daily test for Cov 19 was positive, So he is out of the competition. He feels fine and has no symptoms. Love you son. See you soon. #rancho_olympia #polevaulting” the Instagram post from father and coach Scott Kendricks said, according to NBC News.

The 28-year-old Kendricks won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and was considered a contender for the gold medal at this year’s Olympic Games.

Kendricks is at least the third member of the American team to test positive for covid-19 since arriving in Japan, including beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb and women’s gymnastics alternate Kara Eaker, according to USA Today. Other American athletes didn’t even make it to Tokyo before needing to drop out from the Olympic Games because they tested positive to the coronavirus at home.

Japan is struggling with a surge of covid-19 infections, with its medical system at a breaking point, according to local health authorities. But political leaders were adamant that the Games, already delayed from 2020, continue even though the pandemic is far from over in most of the world.

Japan recorded 4,699 cases of covid-19 on Wednesday and 18 deaths. The U.S. reported 84,735 new cases and 273 deaths from the disease.

The pole vaulting competitions start on Saturday morning Tokyo time, which is particularly bad timing for the athletes who are considered close contacts of Kendricks. It’s not yet clear whether athletes who had contact with Kendricks will be allowed to compete anytime soon.