TOKYO — A beach volleyball player’s dream of competing at the Tokyo Olympics for the United States was dashed after he tested positive for Covid-19, NBC News confirmed Wednesday.
Taylor Crabb is the first Team USA athlete to test positive who was actually expected to compete in the games.
Earlier this week, an alternate of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team named Kara Eaker also tested positive and both she and another alternate, Leanne Wong, were placed in quarantine.
Word of Crabb’s diagnosis came on the same day that the competition in the Olympics, which officially gets underway Friday, kicked off with host team Japan trouncing Australia 8-1 in women’s softball.
Crabb’s infection was detected over the weekend shortly after he landed in the country and he could soon be heading home to Hawaii.
His brother Trevor Crabb, who is also a professional beach volleyball player, called the situation “terrible.”
Crabb is “fine and healthy and should be allowed to play, in my personal opinion,” Trever Crabb told the NBC News affiliate in Los Angeles.
Crabb, who is 29, and his 45-year-old teammate Jake Gibb, had been scheduled to square-off against a pair of Italians in a preliminary match on Sunday at Shiokaze Park, which sits beside Tokyo Bay.
Tri Bourne, another standout beach volleyball player, was expected to replace Crabb, The Orange County Register reported.
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Crabb was controversial choice to represent the U.S. He had been suspended for two years in 2017 by USA Volleyball, which is the sport’s governing body, for drinking with an underage girl and other misconduct, the Southern California News Group reported.
That Crabb was even in Japan was only thanks to an arbitrator who reduced his second suspension in 2019 for violating the terms of his first suspension by coaching at a volleyball camp for girls, SCNG reported.
So far nearly 80 people connected to the Olympics, including a half-dozen athletes, have tested positive for Covid-19, according to a tally compiled by Reuters.
Earlier this month, with the number of Covid-19 cases on the rise and much of the Japanese public opposed to staging the games in Tokyo, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga ordered a state of emergency and banned fans from watching the games live.
“With the number of newly infected people in Tokyo reaching 1,832 today, the rate of infection continues to rise significantly in areas surrounding and including the Tokyo metropolitan city,” Suga said Wednesday after a cabinet meeting.
“Tomorrow will mark the start of a four-day weekend and also the Olympic Games will finally begin," he said. "I ask the public that they stick together with their family and cheer on the athletes on TV from home.”