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American beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb is out of the Olympics after four positive COVID-19 tests, and Tri Bourne will take his place as the partner of four-time Olympian Jake Gibb when the competition begins this weekend.
Crabb confirmed his withdrawal on Thursday in a statement to The Associated Press, noting that he was vaccinated and tested negative before he left the United States but tested positive when he arrived in Japan.
“I’m symptom-free, thankfully, but deeply disappointed to not be able to join Jake on the sand and compete as a member of Team USA,” Crabb said. “I want Jake to play in his fourth Olympic games and I want him to bring home a medal. Tri Bourne, an incredible athlete, person and close friend will be competing alongside Jake and filling my spot on Team USA.”
Despite Crabb’s positive result at the Tokyo airport and follow-up tests that confirmed it, he remained hopeful that subsequent tests would clear him to play. Those results continued to come back positive — including one on Thursday, just hours before the deadline for the national governing body to replace him on the Olympic roster.
The Olympic beach volleyball tournament begins Saturday at Tokyo’s Shiokaze Park, with Gibb and Bourne scheduled to play their first match on Sunday night against Italy.
Bourne, a 32-year-old from Hawaii, was on the Southern California team that reached the 2009 NCAA finals in indoor volleyball and was the 2014 rookie of the year on the international beach tour. He was officially added to the US roster on Thursday, shortly after Crabb texted to let him know that he would be making his Olympic debut.
“It’s truly disappointing to hear that my dear friend will not be playing in the Tokyo Games,” Bourne said in a statement released by USA Volleyball. “Taylor is one of the world’s best and he earned this Olympic spot. … I’m very honoured to be filling in for him and what he represents: his team, family friends and community back home.
“That being said, I’m ready for this moment. I believe it to my core,” he said. “Jake Gibb, let’s ball!”
Gibb, 45, is the oldest volleyball player — beach or indoor — in Olympic history. He played in Beijing and London with Sean Rosenthal, finishing fifth each time. With Casey Patterson in Rio de Janeiro, he failed to reach the knockout round of 16.
Crabb and Gibb are the No. 4 team in the FIVB world rankings and finished 11th in the Olympic qualifying points race. Bourne attempted to qualify for the Tokyo Games with Trevor Crabb, Taylor’s brother, but they were the No. 3 US team in Olympic qualifying; there is a quota of two teams per country.