U.S. Olympic figure skater and medal contender Vincent Zhou tested positive for Covid-19, officials said Monday, and won’t be able compete in the men’s individual competition at the Beijing Winter Games.
Zhou appeared shaken as he took to Instagram on Monday to reveal the news.
“It seems pretty unreal that of all the people it would happen to, (it’d be) myself,” said Zhou, who appeared to be in a hotel room as he spoke directly into a camera.
“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’ve felt the last month or two has been crushing at times.”
The positive result came during routine screening for competitors, the U.S. Figure Skating association said in a statement early Monday. Officials had held out hope that could have been a false positive.
“Under the guidance of the [United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee] medical staff, Zhou is undergoing additional testing to confirm his status,” the statement continued.
The men’s short program starts Tuesday morning in Beijing (8:15 p.m. ET Monday).
Zhou competed over the weekend in the men’s free skate event, placing third and realizing a longtime goal of skating in the Olympics to the music of the 2000 Ang Lee film, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in China, his parents’ home country.
Zhou, 21, finished sixth at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where he made history as the first skater to land a quadruple lutz in the short program.
Friends and family of Zhou, who considers Palo Alto, California, as his hometown, gathered in San Diego, where they held a watch party for his free skate late Saturday.
With Zhou now ruled out, that could open the door for first alternate Ilia Malinin, a 17-year-old from Fairfax, Virginia.
Malinin finished second at last month’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Nashville. But U.S. Figure Skating went with the experience of Zhou, Nathan Chen and Jason Brown for the starting three spots in Beijing.
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