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US pole vaulter Sam Kendricks out of Olympics with COVID-19, sends 3 Aussies into lockdown

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TOKYO — American pole vaulter and reigning world champion Sam Kendricks will miss the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19, officials confirmed Thursday.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement that Kendricks, 28, had been transferred to a hotel to be placed in isolation and was receiving support from both the USOPC and USA Track & Field.

"Sam is an incredible and accomplished member of Team USA and his presence will be missed," the USOPC said. "Out of respect for his privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time."

Kendricks' father and longtime coach, Scott Kendricks, wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post that his son "feels fine and has no symptoms."

Track and field competition is slated to begin Friday at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium.

Sam Kendricks, who won bronze in the pole vault at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, is out of the Tokyo Games after testing positive for COVID-19.
Sam Kendricks, who won bronze in the pole vault at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, is out of the Tokyo Games after testing positive for COVID-19.

The news of Kendricks' positive test led to a fleeting moment of panic for the Australian track and field team, where three team members reported having contact with Kendricks after seeing the news of his positive test.

The Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement that it asked 54 members of its track and field delegation, including 41 athletes, to isolate in their room for a little more than two hours Thursday while the three individuals received PCR tests. All three tests came back negative.

The 54 people were then cleared to resume normal activities, according to the Australian Olympic Committee, while the three unnamed individuals will continue to isolate and take daily tests in concert with Tokyo 2020 organizers' guidelines for close contacts. All of the athletes are set to compete as expected, the AOC said.

Ian Chesterman, the leader of Australia's Olympic delegation, said officials acted out of "abundant caution" in an effort to keep athletes safe.

"We want every Australian athlete to be in a position to have their Olympic moment. We will continue to be vigilant," Chesterman said in a statement.

It is unclear whether any U.S. athletes have been identified as close contacts.

"We are following the USOPC and (Tokyo 2020's) guidance on next steps to ensure the safety of the remainder of our delegation, and to offer support to Sam," USATF said in a statement.

Kendricks, 28, won bronze in the pole vault at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and was expected to be in the mix for another medal in Tokyo. He is the reigning world champion in the event, though Mondo Duplantis of Sweden has since broken the world record and established himself as the favorite.

Widely known as one of the most gregarious athletes on Team USA, Kendricks has been a staple on the competitive circuit since his days at Ole Miss, where he won a pair of NCAA outdoor national titles in 2013 and 2014. He is also a member of the U.S. Army Reserve.

Kendricks becomes the latest Team USA athlete to be ruled out of the Games due to COVID-19. Beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb was pulled from competition following a positive test after his arrival in Japan, while Kara Eaker — an alternate on the U.S. women's gymnastics team — also tested positive while in-country. Several other prominent athletes, including tennis player Coco Gauff, did not travel to Tokyo after testing positive for COVID-19 prior to departure.

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2021 Olympics: US pole vaulter Sam Kendricks out with COVID-19