Beal in protocols, Tokyo Olympics status in doubt

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A person with knowledge of the situation says U.S. Olympic guard Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards has entered the health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus, which raises the possibility that he might miss the Tokyo Games.

Beal will be tested multiple times in the coming days, according to the person who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the player involved for USA Basketball was not revealed publicly. The results of those tests will likely determine if he remains on the roster, the person said.

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“A member of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols,” the federation announced in a statement Wednesday afternoon, without identifying the player involved.

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USA Basketball could still replace Beal before heading to Tokyo. The Americans picked their 12-man team last month but noted that it may change if necessary.

Players, and their family members, in Las Vegas have been tested daily during their training camp there. Many have family with them now since those loved ones will not be allowed to travel to Tokyo for the Olympics because of virus-related restrictions there. Mask-wearing has been required and many of the same rules and policies that players had to adhere to during the NBA season has carried over to the U.S. camp.

Meanwhile, Tokyo reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in almost six months on Wednesday — a bad sign with the Olympics set to open in just over a week. The 1,149 new cases reported in Tokyo on Wednesday was the highest one-day total since Jan. 22, and numbers have been surging in the Olympic host city for nearly a month.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach have both pledged that the Tokyo Olympics will be “safe and secure,” amid a government-mandated state of emergency in and around much of the Tokyo area.

Beal has played in, and started, all three exhibitions for the U.S. so far in Las Vegas, averaging 10.3 points on 10 for 21 shooting. He has improved with each game, starting with a two-point effort in a loss to Nigeria, a 12-point effort in a loss to Australia, then scored 17 in Monday night’s win over Argentina.

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“Today we got better,” Beal said after Monday’s win, appearing at a press conference without a mask — but walking into the room with one on, and placing it back on before getting up to exit the room. “Still a lot we can improve on, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

USA Basketball has two more exhibitions remaining, first Friday against Australia and then Sunday against Spain. The team is scheduled to fly to the Olympics on Monday.

If Beal cannot play in the remaining exhibitions, the Americans would be down to eight of their 12 players. The other three not in Las Vegas with the team — Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker — are at the NBA Finals with Milwaukee and Phoenix.