Olympic athletes, team officials test positive for COVID-19 at higher rates than others

BEIJING – Athletes and team officials test positive for COVID-19 at much higher rates than other people arriving in China for the Beijing Olympics, organizers said Tuesday.

Figures released by local organizers showed 11 positive tests for COVID-19 among 379 athletes and officials arriving Monday. They are housed in isolation hotels to limit the spread of the infection and may miss their events.

The positive test score of 2.9% for athletes and civil servants compared to 0.66% for Olympic “stakeholders”, a group that includes workers and media, in the same period. There were 1,059 people in that category.

Over a three-day period from Saturday to Monday, the positive rate for athletes and officials was 40% higher than for other Olympic arrivals.

The rates were confirmed in PCR and other follow-up tests for tens of thousands of people at the Beijing Olympics who will live, work and train in closed communities separate from the general public. The Chinese government is pursuing a zero-tolerance strategy for public health.

On Monday, the rate of infection testing of those already in the Olympic bubbles was 100 times higher for athletes and officials compared to workers. Five of the athletes’ official group’s 3,103 tests were positive compared to just one of more than 60,000 daily stakeholder tests.

A total of 200 positive tests for COVID-19 have now been recorded at the Olympic Games since Jan. 23. Of those 200, 67 were athletes and officials. “Stakeholders” accounted for the other 133.

Among the athletes testing positive in Beijing is Hong Kong skier Audrey King, who arrived from a training camp in Bosnia-Herzegovina. King told the South China Morning Post that she had no symptoms and was optimistic about shining in the women’s slalom on February. 9.

The most senior athlete representative at the International Olympic Committee, two-time Olympic hockey medalist Emma Terho, is also in an isolation hotel after testing positive on arrival.

“Although this is not the start I had foreseen, I was pleased to see that the protocols established by Beijing 2022 are working well,” said Terho, an IOC member from Finland who sits in the board of the Olympic body, wrote on her Instagram account.

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