The last two U.S. Open champions became the best-known athletes to drop out of the Tokyo Games on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19.
DeChambeau’s positive came before he left the United States for Tokyo. The musclebound American famous for his game-changing swing speed will replaced by Patrick Reed.
“I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA,” DeChambeau said in a statement. “Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honor to make this team.”
Rahm was flagged for COVID-19 for the second time in two months — he had a six-shot lead at the Memorial in early June when he was forced to withdraw because of a positive test. The Spaniard said he had gotten his final vaccine shot fewer than 14 days before that positive.
Both players recently became first-time major champions. DeChambeau won the U.S. Open in 2020 at Winged Foot last fall, and Rahm took this year’s title at Torrey Pines in June, two weeks after the positive test at Muirfield Village.
Several dozen Olympic athletes have tested positive either before leaving for Tokyo or after they arrived. Last week, U.S. tennis player Coco Gauff also tested positive before she left the United States.
Reed was scheduled to undergo testing Sunday and Monday to clear himself to compete in Tokyo. The the first round of the men’s tournament at the Kasumigaseki Country Club is set for Thursday. He will join Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele on the four-man U.S team.
Spain said it would not seek to replace Rahm, leaving Adri Arnaus as its only player in the men’s tournament, which starts Thursday at Kasumigaseki Country Club outside of Tokyo.
No Michael Phelps, no problem for U.S. swimming.
The powerhouse Americans collected six medals — including a gold for Chase Kalisz in the 400-meter individual medley — in the first session of finals. During Phelps’ record-setting career that spanned five Games, the U.S. never won that many medals in the first batch of events.
“A pretty good start for the U.S.,” said Kieran Smith, who in his first major international meet snagged a bronze in the men’s 400 freestyle. “We executed today. I’m really proud of us.”
Kalisz got things going with the country’s first medal in any sport, with teammate Jay Litherland making it a 1-2 finish for the U.S. by rallying on the freestyle leg to claim silver. Emma Weyant and Hali Flickinger took silver and bronze in the 400 IM, and the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team finished third.
There was room for others to shine, as well.
Host Japan won a swimming gold, Tunisia claimed a surprising spot atop the medal podium, and the mighty Australian women set the first world record of the competition in the 4×100 freestyle relay.
The Aussies, who hope to challenge American dominance in the pool, picked up three medals Sunday.
In the 400 free, 18-year-old Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia beat a field of faster and older swimmers. He finished in 3 minutes, 43.26 seconds, punctuating his victory with loud yelling that echoed in the mostly empty 15,000-seat arena.
“I was surprised with myself,” said Hafnaoui, who joined Ous Mellouli as a gold medalist from the north African country. “I couldn’t believe it until I touched the wall and saw the 1 (on the scoreboard).”
UNDER A ROC
Simone Biles and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team trailed the Russians after qualifying in the team event, the first time in a decade they’ve failed to finish atop the standings during any portion of a major international event.
Biles led the field in a bid for her fifth gold medal, but the U.S. team has work to do to repeat as Olympic champions. The ROC had a score of 171.629 through the first three subdivisions at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, ahead of the second-place Americans’ 170.562.
Biles was the best in the gym but shaky by her standards. She stepped all the way off the mat following a tumbling pass on her floor exercise, then basically did the same on vault. She responded with a solid set on uneven bars, but a spectacular beam routine ended with her taking three major steps backward following her dismount.
Jordan Chiles had a major mistake on bars and a fall on beam. Sunisa Lee overcame a so-so performance on floor to surge into second behind Biles with an electric bar routine.
The team final is scheduled for Tuesday night.
Naomi Osaka got back on the court — and back in front of reporters’ microphones — for the first time since withdrawing from the French Open in May to take a mental health break.
The Japanese superstar who lit the Olympic cauldron defeated 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China 6-1, 6-4 in her opening match.
Osaka revealed in May that she has dealt with depression and stopped talking with reporters, saying the experience gave her “huge waves of anxiety.”
“More than anything else I’m just focused on playing tennis,” Osaka said. “The Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was a kid so I feel like the break that I took was very needed. I feel definitely a little bit refreshed and I’m happy again.”
She added that she was “happy” that reporters were asking her questions, then added: “I feel a little bit out of my body right now.”
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