BEIJING — Athletes and team officials are testing 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 have been taken into isolation hotels to limit the spread of the infection and could miss their events.
The positive test rate of 2.9 percent for athletes and officials compared with 0.66 percent for Olympic “stakeholders,” a group which includes workers and media, in the same period. There were 1,059 people in that category.
Over a three-day period from Saturday through Monday, the positivity rate for athletes and officials was 40 percent higher than 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-off communities separated from the general public. The Chinese government is pursuing a zero-tolerance public health strategy.
On Monday, the rate of infection from tests of those already inside the Olympic bubbles was 100 times higher for athletes and officials compared to workers. Five of 3,103 tests from the athletes-officials group were positive compared to only one of more than 60,000 daily tests from “stakeholders.”
A total of 200 positive tests for COVID-19 have now been recorded at the Olympics 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 she had no symptoms and was optimistic of skiing in the women’s slalom on Feb. 9.
The most senior athlete representative at the International Olympic Committee, two-time Olympic hockey medalist Emma Terho, also is in an isolation hotel after testing positive on arrival.
“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,” Terho, an IOC member from Finland who sits on the Olympic body’s executive board, wrote on her Instagram account.
Story by Graham Dunbar