SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah gymnast Kara Eaker tested positive for COVID-19 and has been put in isolation, just days ahead of Opening Ceremonies at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.
Eaker's father and Al Fong — her coach at GAGE Gymnastics — both confirmed that Eaker tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning.
A freshman at Utah, Eaker was serving as an alternate on the U.S. women's team.
KSHB reports that Eaker is feeling fine and is asymptomatic. Eaker previously said in an interview with KSHB that she had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
"We are devastated and heartbroken for Kara as she has worked extremely hard to become part of Team USA in Tokyo," said Utah head coach Tom Farden in a statement. "We will support her in any capacity she may need with the many resources we have here at Utah.
"Our entire community is behind her through this difficult time and wish her a speedy recovery."
Our hearts go out to Kara & her family ❤️ pic.twitter.com/jRuonL9oje— Utah Gymnastics (@UtahGymnastics) July 19, 2021
NBC News reports that Eaker was in Japan for training in the town of Narita, about 35 miles east of Tokyo, when she tested positive.
Another team member has been identified as a "close contact" of Eaker's and has been placed "on standby."
Fong explained that the group only leaves their rooms to eat or go to the gym for training, and through all that, the athletes have little contact with each other.
“In the eating area, the athletes that were on, the six athletes and they stayed on the left side of the room, and replacement stayed on the right. We did everything we possibly could everybody by procedure to stay as distance as possible," Fong said, explaining the athletes even all ate with three feet of space between them.
The competing athletes were even kept separate in the other space they're allowed to be — the bus.
“Even on the bus going to and from, the six athletes stayed in the front of the bus, and the replacement athletes stayed in the back," Fong explained.
Since Eaker tested positive, the protocols have become even more stringent, and the six competing gymnasts have since left for Tokyo.
“We are in our room... there was no more practice. We're not leaving our room. All the food is brought to us — morning, noon, and night. We aren’t allowed to go anywhere. We can’t go down to the first floor. We are now no longer going to the dining area. We are just here on the sixth floor," Fong said. “Immediately, they separated us. They separated us from all contact, and immediately everybody started to having their food taken to the rooms.”
According to the coach, the group left in Nakita is now set to spend 14 days in isolation alone in their rooms with only their phones and Japanese television for entertainment.
Both Eaker and Wong are not showing symptoms and are feeling well.
There have been no other positive tests or quarantines reported for the rest of the team, including the six competing gymnasts.
The U.S. women are seeking their third consecutive Olympic gold medal after winning the overall team competition at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.