TOKYO — 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.

“While there is no question that I’m devastated to not be competing, I’ve now taken on a new role – supporting my new team (Coach Rich Lambourne), Jake and Tri Bourne,” Crabb, 29, who was looking to make his Olympic debut, told the AP. “I want to send positive vibes and negative test results to all athletes here in Tokyo – stay healthy and enjoy every moment.”

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 U.S. roster on Thursday, shortly after Crabb texted to let him know that he would be making his Olympic debut.

OPENING CEREMONY: The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the director of the opening ceremony because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998.

Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said a day ahead of the opening ceremony that director Kentaro Kobayashi has been dismissed. He was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust in his comedy act, including the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust.”

The opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games is scheduled for Friday. The ceremony will be held without spectators as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections, although some officials, guests and media will attend.

GUINEA: The West African country of Guinea has reversed an earlier decision to pull out of the Olympics and will send a delegation of five athletes.

Minister of Sports Sanoussy Bantama Sow made the announcement after national and international outcries that followed an earlier declaration that Guinea would not send athletes to Tokyo, blaming the coronavirus and its variants.

Guinea had announced late Wednesday that it was canceling its participation to protect the health of its athletes.

Fatoumata Yarie Camara, a freestyle wrestler, was one of the five athletes affected by the decision.

The other Guinean athletes are swimmers Mamadou Tahirou Bah and Fatoumata Lamarana Toure, 100-meter runner Aissata Deen Conte and judo competitor Mamadou Samba Bah.

PROTESTS: Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Gwen Berry are among the more than 150 athletes, educators and activists who signed a letter urging the IOC not to punish participants who demonstrate at the Tokyo Games.

The five-page letter, published on the eve of the Olympics, asks the IOC not to sanction athletes for kneeling or raising a fist, the way Smith and Carlos did at the 1968 Mexico City Games.

Berry, the American hammer thrower who triggered much of this debate, has said she intends to use her Olympic platform to point out racial inequality in the United States. She turned away from the flag when the national anthem played while she was on the medals stand at the Olympic trials last month.

The IOC has made changes to its Rule 50 that bans political demonstrations at the Games, and has said it will allow them on the field, so long as they come before the start of action. Players from five Olympic soccer teams took to their knees Wednesday before their games on the opening night for that sport.

But the IOC did not lift the prohibition on medals-stand demonstrations, and has left some of the decision-making about punishment up to individual sports federations.

TENNIS: Naomi Osaka’s first match in nearly two months will come against 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China in the opening round of the Olympic tennis tournament.

The second-seeded Osaka, who represents host Japan and is one of the top names at the Games, is returning to competition after she withdrew from the French Open following the first round to take a mental health break.

Osaka holds a 2-1 career edge over Zheng. Their match will be the very first contest of the Games on center court Saturday.

In the men’s draw, top-ranked Novak Djokovic will open against No. 139 Hugo Dellien of Bolivia.

Djokovic is attempting to become the first man to complete a Golden Slam by winning all four major tennis tournaments and an Olympic singles gold medal in the same year.

TAEKWONDO: A defector from Iran who competes in taekwondo for the refugee team at the Tokyo Olympics was drawn to face an Iranian opponent in the qualifying round.

Kimia Alizadeh, who left Iran citing institutional sexism, will face Nahid Kiyani Chandeh in the 57-kilogram class on Sunday.

Alizadeh was the first Iranian women to win an Olympic medal when she took bronze at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games when she was 18. She later criticized wearing the mandatory hijab headscarf, which she had to wear in Rio, and left Iran to live in Germany.

TRACK & FIELD: Eight Olympic qualifying performances in track and field were wiped out because of suspicions of cheating and the athletes were denied entry to the Tokyo Games, investigators said.

Reports of suspicious activity came from 16 countries, track’s Athletics Integrity Unit said after identifying possible pre-Games cheating. It did not identify the countries or the athletes involved.

The alerts related to “unreliable photo-finish pictures, the short measuring of courses, illegal use of pacers, use of unauthorized field instruments and incorrect timings,” the AIU said.

SOFTBALL: Six outs from her second Olympic no-hitter, Monica Abbott was clinging to a one-run lead when she walked Canada’s Jen Gilbert leading off the sixth inning, and pinch-hitter Sara Groenewegen lined a 0-2 pitch to the right-center field gap.

Center fielder Haylie McCleney picked up the ball at the wall and fired to Ali Aguilar. The second baseman made a perfect one-hop throw to catcher Aubree Munro, who moved up the third-base line and swiped a tag on sliding pinch-runner Joey Lye for the out.

“It’s fun to be on the mound to watch that,” Abbott said after her one-hitter led the United States over Canada 1-0 on Thursday. “I don’t want to give up a hit like that, but, man oh man, it took a lot of confidence in me on our defense.”

Amanda Chidester hit an RBI single in the fifth off loser Jenna Caira that scored McCleney, who went 3 for 3 with a walk and has reached base seven times in two games.

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