Just as tennis star Cori “Coco” Gauff was preparing to represent Team USA in the women’s single division, the three-time WTA champion’s Olympic dreams came crashing to a halt on July 18, after she announced she had tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement on Twitter, the 18-year-old athlete revealed that she would not be able to participate in the Olympics, which is just days away.
“I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won’t be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” Gauff wrote. “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. I want to wish TEAM USA best of luck and a safe games for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family.”
The U.S. Tennis Association issued a statement following the tough news in support of Gauff.
“The entire USA Tennis Olympic contingent is heartbroken for Coco,” the association said. “We wish her the best as she deals with this unfortunate situation and hope to see her back on the courts very soon.
It’s unclear as to how the burgeoning tennis champ contracted the virus but Tokyo Olympic president Seiko Hashimoto announced on July 17 that an organizer of the event had tested positive for the virus who had been staying at the Olympic village. The statement came a day after the Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach reassured people that there was “zero risk” of athletes infecting one another with COVID outside of the event’s sealed-off area, NBC noted.
In addition to Gauff, two other players at this year’s games were revealed to have contracted the virus including soccer players Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi from Team South Africa. A rugby coach and video analyst from the team were also reportedly infected.
The Tokyo Olympics are still set to officially begin on July 23 and will continue until August 8 despite the rise in COVID-19 cases. This year’s event which was delayed because of the pandemic will take place without spectators amongst health concerns. The Olympic organization isn’t requiring athletes to be vaccinated either.
Safety measures will be in place throughout the competition including social distancing and mask-wearing protocols. CNN reports that COVID-19 testing centers will be placed throughout the Olympic grounds where athletes will be tested daily in addition to contact tracing. If COVID-19 is detected, individuals will be isolated and will no longer be able to compete during the games.