With tears in her eyes, Kim Meylemans explained how she thought her nightmare was over.
Meylemans, a skeleton rider from Belgium, only recently returned to competition after a bout with coronavirus in early January when she departed for Beijing on Sunday. Dozens of negative tests in the weeks leading up to departure for the Winter Olympics have reassured her that her recovery has come at the right time.
So Meylemans was surprised to learn that she had tested positive on arrival, and upset when she is quickly transferred to an isolated hotel. What happened next shook her.
In one tearful video posted on InstagramMeylemans recounted how she thought she had been told by Chinese authorities that she would be allowed to return to the Olympic Village to complete her isolation, only to be taken to a different facility and more isolated.
Panting and bewildered, Meylemans said she wasn’t sure she had the strength to compete. Even Belgian Olympic officials were not told where she would be taken, she suggested. “I’m asking all of you to give me some time to consider my next steps, because I’m not sure I can handle another 14 days and Olympic competition while isolated like this,” she said.
Relief came quickly. Hours after her video went viral on social media, Meylemans posted a new video in which she said she received a knock on her door at 11:35 p.m. from officials who rushed to help. send her to the Olympic Village.
However, her case underscores the discomfort and confusion many athletes, journalists and other visitors have expressed ahead of the Olympics in China, which is enforcing strict measures such as part of the so-called zero-covid strategy. Those rules frequently lead to confusion, anxiety, and – in the case of Meylemans – fear.
“This is an issue we talked about from the very beginning,” said Rob Koehler, general manager of Global Athlete, an advocacy group. “Nobody knows what will happen.”
The International Olympic Committee, which is negotiating with Chinese authorities to reduce the value of triggering Olympic participants to return negative tests, said in a statement that it was aware of the school. case of the Meylemans after her release. It said she was being treated according to the rules for close contacts in the so-called Olympics playbook governing Covid protocols for the Olympics. (Some New York Times journalists attending the Olympics were also subject to similar restrictions, forcing them to eat and travel alone while working.) of available space.
“Close contacts can train and compete, live in the Olympic Village, but need to stay in a single room, be transported alone and need to eat alone,” the IOC said.
When Olympic officials were informed of Meylemans’ “difficult situation,” the IOC said, they moved quickly to arrange a single room for her in the Olympic Village.
Once inside, a relieved Meylemans was soon back online, posting a series of Instagram stories while reclining in bed. She thanked her friends and Belgian Olympic officials for their help. “At least I’m back in the village,” she said. “I feel safe.”
https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/02/02/sports/olympics-winter-news 2022 Winter Olympics Ramp Up in Beijing: Live Updates