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1st U.S. Athlete Set To Compete In Olympics Tests Positive For Coronavirus In Japan

Taylor Crabb, shown here in a 2019 tournament, is widely reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus in Japan.
Justin Casterline
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Getty Images
Taylor Crabb, shown here in a 2019 tournament, is widely reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus in Japan.

Updated July 22, 2021 at 12:38 PM ET

The first U.S. athlete expected to compete in the Tokyo Summer Olympics has tested positive for the coronavirus while in Japan. Beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb will be replaced on the top U.S. men's team by Tri Bourne, who will now play with Jake Gibb this weekend.

"After taking every precaution, getting vaccinated and following protocols, I have tested positive for COVID-19," Crabb said via Instagram. "I'm symptom-free, thankfully, but deeply disappointed to not be able to join Jake on the sand and compete as a member of Team USA. I've faced adversity before, and I will face it again, but it doesn't take the sting out of the situation."

USA Volleyball confirmed to NPR earlier Thursday that the athlete was transferred to a hotel after testing positive.

The team did not initially identity Crabb as the positive case, though his name was widely reported in Southern California local media as the affected athlete. It later confirmed his status after securing a replacement for him.

Teams of two play beach volleyball at the Olympics. Crabb, 29, and Gibb were scheduled for their first game Sunday against a pair from Italy.

"As for a potential replacement, there is a protocol for an alternate athlete to join the team" in the instance of a positive coronavirus test, USA Volleyball said.

Crabb was preparing for his Olympic debut. Gibb, 45, has competed in three other Games. Last month, the pair secured their spot to Tokyo. They are the top-ranked U.S. team and No. 4 overall in the world.

Crabb's brother Trevor, who is also a professional beach volleyball player, told a local NBC affiliate that he thought the situation was "terrible." He said Crabb is "fine and healthy and should be allowed to play in my personal opinion."

As for Gibb's status, the COVID-19 protocols for the Games leave the door open for officials to determine on a case-by-case basis whether a close contact of a positive case can compete.

A U.S. gymnastics alternate, Kara Eaker, also tested positive in Japan. U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff received a positive test while she was still in the United States.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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