Olympians avoiding COVID at all costs ahead of Beijing Games
10 days out from the Olympics, athletes around the world are battening down the hatches in hopes of making it to Beijing COVID-free.
- Athletes must test negative twice within 96 hours of their flight, and again upon their arrival in Beijing.
- A positive test will force them to either stay home or endure a lengthy isolation in China, so many of them are taking extreme measures to avoid that nightmare scenario.
State of play: Years of intense athletic training now boils down to one final test: dodging a virus.
- Canada's men's curling team is spending three weeks sequestered in a Vancouver rental home, training only when the nearby rink is empty. "It's like a frat house without the booze," the team told NYT.
- American snowboarders Shaun White and Chloe Kim skipped the X Games last weekend out of an abundance of caution.
- Swiss snowboarder Patricia Kummer is currently quarantining for 21 days in a Beijing Holiday Inn, a consequence of her unvaccinated status (most Olympians are vaccinated, including 100% of Team USA).
The big picture: The modern Olympics have been around for 126 years. Never before have athletes spent the lead-up to the biggest event of their lives expending so much mental energy on a non-athletic endeavor.
- Tokyo had similar stakes, but the highly-transmissible Omicron variant didn't exist last summer and Japan wasn't a "zero-COVID" country like China is.
- Plus, six months after watching Coco Gauff, Bradley Beal and others have their Olympic dreams stripped away due to a positive test, the fear of enduring that same fate is more palpable.
The last word: "Everyone is testing positive right now, and that freaks me out," American luger Emily Sweeney told NYT.