The USA missed out on the final of the men's 4x100 metres relay, finishing only sixth in their heat.
The Americans were regarded as favourites to challenge for a medal but ran below their best to miss out.
It continues a dismal run in the event for the USA, having been disqualified five years ago in Rio after a mistimed baton exchange.
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The American unit were stripped of their silver medals after London 2012 due to Tyson Gay's doping ban.
Outstanding runs from Germany and Ghana, setting a new national record, secured them the fastest losers' spots in Friday's final.
China won the second heat in a photo finish ahead of Canada, with each recording the same time of 37.92 seconds.
Italy, led by individual champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs, also set a new national record in taking the third automatic qualification spot.
Earlier, Jamaica (37.82) had won the first heat to qualify fastest through to the final.
Great Britain progressed safely through behind them, recording a season's best time of 38.02.
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The British quartet was formed of CJ Ujah, individual finalist Zharnel Hughes, relay stalwart Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake.
Japan also qualified from the first heat, narrowly pushing out France.
America had named a strong team for the heats, including 100 metres silver medallist Fred Kerley and fourth-placed finisher Ronnie Baker.
Trayvon Bromell, who missed out on the individual final, led off the American relay quartet.
However Cravon Gillespie was run out of the qualification places on the final leg.
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For Great Britain, qualification was simple enough in the less competitive of the two heats.
Team GB finished fifth in Rio de Janeiro in the 4x100m, but are looking to build on a gold and a silver medal won at the last two World Championships.
"It was about being safe," Ujah told Europsort and discovery+ expert Greg Rutherford. "A season's best is pretty good. It's nice to get through to the final.
"I felt like I was holding a kettle out there! I didn't realise quite how hot it was."
It was Kilty's first run of the Olympics, with the experienced, explosive 31-year-old saying the track "felt fast".
"That wasn't good enough, but we are qualified and we all know exactly what we have got to do.
"We are going to go for gold in that final and I am confident we can nail it."
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