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Olympic alternate can't get to Tokyo on time, blasts 'selfish' surfer for late COVID report

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Angelo Bonomelli was the first alternate for the debut of surfing as an Olympic competition.

When Portugal's Frederico Morais tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, he got the call. He just didn't get it in time. The 30-year-old Italian had to turn down his invitation to the Olympic Games because he couldn't get his own test and make it to Japan for the start on competition on Sunday. 

On Monday, he blasted Morais and Portugal for the timing of his withdrawal, telling the Associated Press that his rival was "selfish."

“I just think (it’s) not fair for me to blow a lifetime opportunity,” Bonomelli told AP. “There is some negligence.”

Angelo Bonomelli taking part in the Quarter Finals of the  Mens Open, presented by Carve at  Boardmasters surfing Competition held at Fistral Beach on August 07, 2015 in Newquay, England.PHOTOGRAPH BY Graham Stone / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Graham Stone / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Angelo Bonomelli didn't have time to get to Japan after an Olympic surfer's late COVID-19 report. (Graham Stone / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

2nd alternate gambled, lost 

Twenty surfers made the cut for the inaugural men's competition being held this week at Tsurigasaki beach. Morais and second alternate Carlos Munoz of Costa Rica both failed to make it to Japan after Morais' withdrawal. 

Bonamelli didn't even try because Italy declined the invitation, citing travel and test logistics making it impossible for him to make the trip in time. Munoz accepted the invitation as he and Costa Rica held out hope that weather would force Sunday's start to a later time. It didn't. The competition started Sunday with 19 competitors instead of 20. 

In normal times, alternates often travel with their delegations to the Olympic host site. These are not normal times. With stringent COVID-19 regulations in Japan, alternates like Bonamelli did not. He was in Costa Rica — where he currently lives — when he got the call. 

Morais knew about his diagnosis for weeks

Morais told AP that he'd known about his diagnosis for weeks. He was holding out hope that he would return a negative COVID-19 test in time to compete. When he didn't, he was forced to withdraw the day before the competition.

“I worked two years to earn my spot,” Morais told AP. “On my side the transparency was total, I was trying everything to the last minute, I was running against the time, and once I understood there was no more chance for me to go I pulled out. 

"More than transparency it was my dream that got ruined because I did earn my spot fair and square.”

What Japan, Olympics require when someone tests positive

Per AP, the Japanese government requires Olympic athletes and delegates to submit a negative test within 72 hours of arrival. The Athlete and Officials Playbook put together by the International olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers requires that an athlete who tests positive before traveling to Japan inform their COVID-19 Liaison Officer (CLO) "immediately."

"Contact your CLO, who will record your symptoms, test results and close contacts, as well as inform Tokyo 2020 and agree on next steps," the playbook instructs athletes.

Morais declined to acknowledge when he informed Portugal officials of his positive test in his correspondence with AP. The Sport's governing body International Surfing Association told AP it learned about his diagnosis when he announced it on Instagram Saturday.

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Bonomelli's not interested in Morais' reasoning.

“It’s mind blowing how unfair it is,” Bonomelli said.

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