BEIJING (Reuters) -American figure skater Vincent Zhou said on Monday he has withdrawn from the Beijing Olympics ahead of this week’s men’s singles competition after testing positive for COVID-19.
A tearful Zhou, who finished sixth at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games and beat triple world champion Nathan Chen for the gold medal at the Skate America Grand Prix in October, delivered the news in a five-minute Instagram video.
“I have tested positive for COVID-19 and unfortunately I will have to withdraw from the individual event starting tomorrow,” Zhou said.
“It seems pretty unreal that of all the people it would happen to myself, and that’s not just because I’m still processing this turn of events but also because I have been doing everything in my power to stay free of COVID since the start of the pandemic.
“I’ve taken all the precautions I can. I’ve isolated myself so much that the loneliness I felt in the last month or two has been crushing at times.”
Earlier on Monday, U.S. Figure Skating said Zhou was undergoing additional testing and that the 21-year-old California native would be able to compete in the men’s short programme should he test negative.
Zhou, who hopes to represent the United States at next month’s world championships in France, did say he was somewhat consoled by the fact that he did earn a silver medal in Beijing in the team event.
“I’ve already lost count of the number of times I’ve cried today,” said Zhou. “But I’m happy to say that at least one of those times was happy tears, and that was when I found out that I became an Olympic silver medallist.”
Prior to Zhou’s announcement, team mate Karen Chen said she was taking precautions to combat the possibility of contracting COVID in the Olympic Village, with dozens of athletes having tested positive on arrival in Beijing since Jan. 23.
“It’s definitely something that I think about every now and then, but it’s in a way out of my control,” Chen said.
“I can only do what I can control, whether it’s double masking, sanitising my hands all the time, wearing gloves, not touching my face. So those are things that I can control, so I’ve just been focusing on that.”
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Hritika Sharma and Frank Pingue; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Peter Rutherford and Pritha Sarkar)