Kendricks, the U.S. record-holder for the event, tested positive less than 24 hours before the start of the pole vaulting event in the Olympics.
A second pole vaulter, Germán Chiaraviglio of Argentina, also withdrew from the event shortly after the announcement about Kendricks. He too tested positive for COVID-19, sharing that “it’s really hard to process something like this.”
The Olympics were postponed for a year because of the pandemic, and the decision to have them go forward in 2021 in Tokyo was controversial — particularly in Japan, which has been struggling with rising cases.
Several American athletes, including NBA star Bradley Beal, pulled out of the Olympics before they began because of positive tests.
After the Kendricks news, the Australian Olympic Committee said it would be isolating its track team because three people had contact with the American, the AP reported. All three later tested negative for COVID-19.
In a statement, USA Track and Field told the AP that it was following the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee “guidance on next steps to ensure the safety of the remainder of our delegation, and to offer support to Sam.”
Around 2,000 athletes are expected to compete in the track and field events for the two-week games, the AP noted.