Two members of Norway’s women’s cross-country ski team have tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the Beijing Olympics next month, the team announced on Wednesday, as other countries also face strained expectations to see if their own infected athletes can recover in time.
Swiss hockey players, Russian bobsledders and German skeleton sliders are among other potential Olympians facing nervous waiting. Also on this list: American bobsledder Josh Williamson, who revealed a positive test on Wednesday and will not accompany his teammates on their Thursday flight to China – although he remains hopeful of arriving at the Games in sufficient time. advance to compete.
Two-time World Cup champion Heidi Weng and Anne Kjersti Kalvå contracted COVID-19 during a training camp in the Italian alpine resort of Seiser Alm and are now in isolation.
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Norwegian cross-country manager Espen Bjervig said in a video call that his participation in the Olympics was uncertain.
Team doctor Øystein Andersen said Italian rules mean Weng and Kalvå will be isolated for 10 days, until February 3. The opening ceremony will take place on February 4 and the Olympic cross-country ski program will begin the following day.
“It’s a shocking situation,” Andersen said.
Weng is the highest ranked Norwegian and a five-time world champion.
“We have a reserve in the squad, and we also have other athletes who are accredited and can be ready,” Bjervig said of possible replacements. “But fundamentally now the focus is on looking at opportunities for those who have been removed.”
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Norway is the leading nation in cross-country skiing, with its women’s team winning three of the six events on the program at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
The team had planned to leave for Beijing on Thursday but will now be delayed.
The entire men’s team is also in isolation at Seiser Alm after head coach Arild Monsen tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to Norway on Monday.
The eight team members were identified as a close contact of Monsen and were awaiting PCR test results. They are now due to leave for Beijing on Monday.
Some American athletes leave on Thursday and Williamson planned to be part of this charter. He will have to wait at least a few days before reaching what would be his first Olympic Games.
“It hasn’t been an easy pill to swallow,” Williamson said.
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China is imposing strict restrictions on all arrivals, but especially on people who have recently contracted the virus. They are required to provide proof of five recent negative test results since infection. All athletes will also be tested each day they are in China.
Switzerland said two of its women’s hockey players will not fly with their teammates to Beijing on their scheduled flight on Wednesday following testing for the virus. The Swiss Olympic team said some results for Alina Müller and Sinja Leemann in recent days exceeded the threshold for entering China, but said it hoped they could catch a flight later and join the team in time for their opener against Canada on February 22. 3.
Two Russian bobsledders from the same sled crew have reported positive tests. Alexei Pushkarev and Vasily Kondratenko are in isolation after a training camp in the southern city of Sochi, coach Denis Alimov told Match TV.
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There have been four cases of the virus in the Russian Olympic team this week. 2018 skeleton silver medalist Nikita Tregubov tested positive after attending the same camp as the bobsledders. Figure skater Mikhail Kolyada tested positive and was replaced in the squad on Tuesday after feeling unwell.
German skeleton racers Axel Jungk and Hannah Neise are also hoping to compete despite recent infections. Coach Christian Baude said the two tested positive earlier this month after competing at a World Cup, in comments reported by German news agency dpa. Baude said Neise had already provided a negative test since her infection.