Just days away from the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics, COVID cases are rising among Olympic athletes and staff, stripping many of their Olympic dreams.
Over the weekend, 34 new cases were reported on Saturday, and 37 on Sunday.
Valeria Vasnetsova, one of three Russian athletes to test positive for COVID on Monday, was forced to give up her opportunity to compete in the 2022 Olympics.
“Unfortunately, my Olympic dream will remain just a dream,” Vasnetsova posted on social media. “Maybe one day I will find the strength to rise again but it will be a completely different story.”
These athletes have been training their whole lives for this moment, but in the blink of an eye, many will find that their years of hard work will have been for nothing.
American athlete, Chris Mazdzer, explained the fear being felt by all the athletes right now. “There have been a lot of athletes that are testing positive right now and it’s scary because you put in four years since the last Games and for all of that to go to waste in the last week, last couple of days, it would be a tragedy,” Mazdzer said.
Also testing positive for COVID was Emma Terho, the head of the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission. From isolation, Terho posted a message to social media saying, “Even though this is not the start I envisaged, I was happy to see the protocols that Beijing 2022 has put in place are working well.”
The athletes and staff are being placed in a”closed loop”, or a COVID bubble, once they arrive in Beijing in order to keep them separated from the general public. The hotels are blocked off by wire fences, and security guards keep people both in and out of the property.