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First Olympic beach volleyball match canceled after positive COVID test

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TOKYO — The first beach volleyball match of the Tokyo Olympics was canceled after another Czech athlete tested positive for COVID-19. 

Markéta Sluková-Nausch and Barbora Hermannová were supposed to face a Japanese team making their Olympic debut on Saturday morning. But on Thursday, it was announced that Sluková-Nausch has joined the now six members of the Czech Olympic team to test positive, part of a growing outbreak that’s already prompted an investigation by the Czech Olympic Committee (COC) into a charter flight from Prague to Tokyo. Sluková-Nausch's coach and husband, Simon Nausch, also tested positive.

Vlastimil Voráček, a doctor with the delegation, was the first person from the flight to test positive in Tokyo. Czech media outlets are reporting that he is unvaccinated.

empty stands are seen in the women's preliminary beach volleyball pool C match between Brazil and Argentina during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Shiokaze Park in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Angela WEISS / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
empty stands are seen in the women's preliminary beach volleyball pool C match between Brazil and Argentina during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Shiokaze Park in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Angela WEISS / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

The COC issued a release on Thursday saying that it is “fully aware of the seriousness of the situation” and that it will conduct an investigation, with results expected in 14 days. The investigation will specifically focus on whether all precautions against the spread of COVID-19 were taken or "whether some individuals have neglected their responsibilities along the way.”

In a statement from her representative provided to CNN, Sluková-Nausch said, "I know that many much worse things are happening around the world right now, but truthfully, in our own sporting micro-world, the world we have lived in and are living in now, it is extremely sad for Bára and I that our journey to Tokyo, the journey that was meant to be a pinnacle, had to end in this way.”

Their opponents were awarded the points from the match. A statement provided at the venue said that all the other matches will go ahead as scheduled, including the U.S. men’s team match, which will feature a last-minute replacement for an American volleyball player who tested positive for COVID-19.

"The situation is serious, but we have done our utmost since the beginning of this problem to stop the spread,” Czech team leader Martin Doktor said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we did not avoid sports tragedies, I am extremely sorry.”

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