Salem Radio Network News Sunday, May 22, 2022

Sports

Cross-country skiing-Chaos in Norway team as Weng tests positive for COVID

By Philip O’Connor

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Norway’s preparations for the Beijing Olympics were thrown into chaos on Wednesday as 2014 Olympic bronze medallist Heidi Weng tested positive for COVID-19, joining a coach who also tested positive earlier in the week.

A traditional powerhouse at the winter Games, especially in cross-country skiing, coach Arild Monsen tested positive after the Norwegians returned from an altitude training camp in the Italian resort of Seiser Alm.

The Norwegian ski federation told a news conference that it was delaying the team’s departure to Beijing, which was supposed to take place on Thursday, by at least four days.

“It feels like a punch in the face,” Espen Bjervig, head of cross-country at the federation, told reporters.

The federation said that Weng and team mate Anne Kjersti Kalvaa had also tested positive, prompting fears that the virus could infect more members of the team and throw their plans for travelling to China into disarray.

“It is a situation that is terribly sad for us as a team. It is terribly sad for those concerned,” national team doctor Oeystein Andersen said during a news conference on Wednesday morning.

“It is clear that all our athletes have done what they can to avoid getting infected. To get such a message when you are here asymptomatic is of course very surprising,” he added.

Strict protocols are in place in China, and athletes and coaches must record their health status for at least 14 days before travelling to Beijing.

They must also be able to provide evidence of two negative tests within 96 hours of arriving in China and test every day while there, and close contacts of infected individuals can be forced to isolate.

“Everyone will be isolated from those who are infected and we will track the infection intensely in the next few days to see if we find more who are infected,” Andersen said.

Neighbours Sweden chose to move their final training camp to Livigno following a rise in cases in Seiser Alm.

The Beijing Games begin on Feb 4 and the cross-country skiing competitions get underway the following day with the skiathlon for women, the event in which Weng won bronze in Sochi.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor, additional reporting by Terje Solsvik in Oslo; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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