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Australian athletics team dragged into Covid scare after American tests positive

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP</span>
Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

Three members of Australia’s track and field team have been forced to train in isolation on the eve of competition at the Tokyo Olympics after American pole vaulter Sam Kendricks tested positive for Covid-19.

Australia’s athletics team went into a two-hour lockdown on Thursday with athletes confined to their roomsas a precautionary measure following Kendricks’ withdrawal from the Games.

Related: Sign up for the Tokyo 2020 daily briefing: the best of the Olympics and Paralympics

The Australian Olympic Committee later confirmed three athletes who reported having fleeting contact with Kendricks had undergone rapid Covid testing and returned negative results.

The large majority of the team – 41 athletes and 13 officials – have since been freed from their rooms and cleared to return to their regular routines, while the trio who were tested must remain in isolation.

They will, however, be allowed to resume training, subject to strict protocols that restricts their contact with others.

“All three tested negative after undergoing a PCR Test this afternoon, while teammates remained in their rooms in line with AOC Covid protocols,” an AOC statement read.

“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. All members of the Australian Team at the Tokyo Games are tested daily.”

The AOC said at this stage it expected all athletes to compete as planned once the track and field competition gets under way on Friday in Tokyo.

The AOC’s chef de mission, Ian Chesterman, said the protocols put into place by the AOC ahead of the Games had proved valuable in managing the scare.

“Once again, abundant caution and our strict protocols continue to keep the team safe,” he said. “We will continue to be very thorough in our observance of the Tokyo playbooks and our own additional measures.

“We want every Australian athlete to be in a position to have their Olympic moment. We will continue to be vigilant.”

Australian vaulter Kurtis Marschall is believed to be one of the three athletes who had come into contact with Kendricks. The men’s pole vault heats begin on Saturday at the Olympic Stadium.

Two-times world champion Kendricks earlier withdrew from the Games after returning a positive Covid test, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee confirmed.

“The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority,” the USOPC said in a statement.

Kendricks was transferred to a hotel and and protocols were activated to isolate him. United States Track and Field said his close contacts had been immediately notified.

“We are following the guidance on next steps to ensure the safety of the remainder of our delegation, and to offer support to Sam,” USATF tweeted.

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