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Clippings: Team USA is taking one hit after another

This week was a reminder that sports are still being played during a pandemic.

Argentina v United States Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

First, Team USA lost to Nigeria. Then, they lost to Australia.

Now, they’ve lost Bradley Beal.

Beal, who was jubilant last week in a chat with SB Nation about the prospect of being an Olympian and winning a gold medal, has been ruled out of the Olympic Games after being put in the health and safety protocols.

Jerami Grant has also been placed in the protocol, though that decision appears to have been made due to contact tracing, since Grant is expected to remain with the team. It’s unclear at the moment who will replace Beal on the roster. As far as we know, Duncan Robinson has been considered and Trae Young has not.

Team USA also canceled its second exhibition game against Australia today. Their final exhibition contest against Spain Sunday remains on the schedule, though that is also subject to change.

Beal had been starting for the Americans alongside Dame Lillard in the backcourt and was feeling his way out. After scoring two points on 1-of-7 shooting in the opener, Beal scored 12 and 17 in the subsequent two on excellent efficiency. Whether he would have retained his starting spot when Devin Booker and Khris Middleton joined the team is an open question, but unless Stephen Curry decides to suit up, Beal’s replacement will likely be a talent downgrade.

This turn of events is a microcosm of the strange set-up of the 2020 Olympics. They’re being played a year late in a country that is in a COVID-19 state of emergency, and no family, friends, or fans will be allowed at the games. The global pandemic continues, and Beal’s health and safety is a sobering reminder of that. On the women’s side, WNBA All-Star Liz Cambage just opted out of the games out of concern for her mental well-being since the athletes will essentially be playing in a bubble.

The Olympics are still a dream come true for most participants, The American men are going in with that mindset, and they have the talent necessary to come home as champions. But these Games will be anything but normal. Be prepared for unexpected outcomes.

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