Athletes share mindset on COVID concerns as Winter Games draw near

Winter Olympics is 3 days away

The days leading up to the Winter Games are a psychological minefield under normal circumstances. But the ongoing pandemic has intensified that stress. With athletes knowing a positive COVID test could mean they won't compete at all.

DETROIT – The days leading up to the Winter Games are a psychological minefield under normal circumstances. But the ongoing pandemic has intensified that stress with athletes knowing a positive COVID test could mean they won’t compete at all.

Olympic organizers reported 71 new COVID cases inside the Olympic bubble over the weekend, Including 28 involving athletes or team officials.

Other athletes have tested positive before even departing for the games, Including U.S. Bobsledder Josh Williamson.

As the competition is soon set to begin, concern about COVID looms large.

As the U.S. Olympic Team is arriving in Beijing, Short Track Speed Skater Maame Biney is voicing the fears of many.

“If we get COVID right now, we’re not skating, and that’s extremely fearful,” said Biney. “I know that I’ve done everything in my power to not get COVID, and I’ve done everything right.”

And she’s determined to stay on track.

“I’m really focusing on things that I can control,” Biney said. “Like that’s my life motto right now.”

That’s a good mindset, says Apolo Ohno, Team U.S.A’s most decorated Winter Olympian.

“I think the single most important thing to remember as all these athletes go into these games is that you must control what you can and then disregard what you cannot,” said Ohno.

Ohno says the athletes are prepared for the extreme precautions.

“The athletes have gone through a lot of these different circumstances and environments for the past year and a half as they have competed around the world,” Ohno said. “So they have some semblance of what’s happening. Athletes are really good at adapting like they’re excellent, they’re really good adapting to stress to these environments. And I think that the one commonality here is that it’s somewhat of an even playing ground, even though it’s being competed on foreign soil. Everyone has to go to the same thing.”

Ohno says ultimately, the Olympics are still about rising to the challenge.

“Yes, we’ll be different. Yes. Will it be hard? Yes. Will they still have a chance to win? Absolutely,” Ohno said.

Once athletes clear the initial testing process, they’ll be tested every day with a throat swab. If they test positive, they’ll be retested with a PCR Test.

Those who are asymptomatic will be required to isolate until they test negative on two PCR Tests at least 24 hours apart.

Athletes with symptoms will be isolated at designated hospitals.

Close contacts will still be allowed to train and compete, but they will be tested every 12 hours for seven days and six hours before any competition.

They will also have to stay in a single room, eat alone, and wear a mask around others except when competing.


About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.