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Olympic Athletes Are Testing Positive for COVID Ahead of Beijing Games

Olympic Athletes Are Testing Positive for COVID Ahead of Beijing Games

Daily COVID-19 infections among athletes and team officials at the Beijing Winter Olympics jumped to 19 on Friday from two a day earlier, as Games organizers warned of more cases in coming days.

Including the athletes and officials, 36 Games-related personnel were found to be infected – 29 when they arrived at the Beijing airport and seven already in the “closed-loop” bubble that separates event personnel from the public, the organizing committee said in a statement on Saturday.

 

Organizers are “confident” in their system of COVID-19 prevention, and infections are unlikely to leak out into the public, according to the Games’ medical chief, Brian McCloskey, who spoke to the press at a news conference on Friday. The Games are to run from February 4th until February 20th, sealed off from the rest of China in its own bubble, where the government’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy has all but shut the country’s border to international arrivals.

Cases among athletes and team officials exceeded those for “other stakeholders”, including media, sponsors, and staff, for the first time since China started releasing daily numbers of Olympics-related coronavirus cases on January 23rd. The United States bobsled and skeleton team has been dealing with COVID-19 trouble a week before the Olympics, with multiple positive tests affecting travel plans in recent days. Olympic rules state all participants will need four consecutive days of negative tests, plus a fifth-day buffer, before they can depart, according to updated protocols finalized late last week. Each of the four tests must be a PCR test, which can remain positive for weeks after a person clears the contagious phase of their infection.

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Among the other Olympic teams known to have had pre-Games COVID-19 issues are the Norwegian cross-country skiing, German skeleton, Russian bobsled, and Russian figure skating teams. In total, 22 athletes and team officials have tested positive at the Beijing airport this week.

 

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