What happens when an Olympic athlete gets COVID?


Imogen Rogers

Along side training for the biggest competition of their lives, athletes have to worry about battling the new Omicron variant as well.

The beloved Winter Olympic Games that bring together athletes from all over the world has begun. Thankfully, these games haven’t had to be postponed like the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. But in the midst of the contagious COVID-19 Omicron Variant, all athletes are at risk.

“You’re like just so stressed about making sure you’re as safe as you can be, yet at the same time, there’s no way to be 100% safe,” said Olympic athlete Chris Mazdzer.

There are multiple procedures in place to keep olympic athletes from getting COVID. For starters, all athletes that compete must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“As I understand it, the Olympic Committee has a thick rule book that covers just about all circumstances… The athletes and their coaches have little choice,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University.

When traveling to the Olympics, athletes must test negative for COVID twice within a 96 hour period before their flight. They travel on chartered flights that are carefully organized by the Chinese government to only carry Olympic personnel. The flights depart from major cities around the world. Upon arrival in Beijing, they are only allowed to use Olympic transportation.

“I think it’s a pretty good idea to minimize [the athlete’s] exposure to other people. If they get sick, it would be sad because they wouldn’t be able to compete in their event,” said Kiana Lum (‘22).

If an athlete tests positive for COVID before their flight, they are forced to withdraw from the competition.

“I have been doing everything in my power to stay free of Covid… I’ve isolated myself so much that the loneliness I’ve felt in the last month or two has been crushing at times.” said U.S.A Figure Skater Vincent Zhou.

If an athlete tests positive for COVID in Beijing, there are two different things that could happen. If the athlete has no symptoms but has the virus, they’re forced to reside in their own room in the olympic village and take daily tests. If they are symptomatic, athletes are forced to either stay in an isolation hotel, or sign themselves into a hospital. If the athlete still has the virus when their time to compete comes around, they will unfortunately be kept from achieving their olympic dreams.

“In the same spirit, our heart goes out to all the athletes who because of the pandemic could not make their Olympic dream come true,” said Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee.