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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Who’s out? The coronavirus jeopardizes some Olympic dreams.

Elana Meyers Taylor competed in several World Cup events last month before traveling to Beijing.

By Andrew Das and Alan Blinder

The Beijing Olympics will open Friday without several athletes and at least one International Olympic Committee member who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the final days before the Games.

The athletes come from a variety of sports and at least a half-dozen countries, and include at least two American medal contenders.

Elana Meyers Taylor, a three-time Olympic medalist and one of the most decorated American bobsledders in history, said Tuesday that she had tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after arriving in Beijing for the Winter Olympics. Meyers Taylor, 37, who revealed her positive test in a post on Instagram, must return two negative test results to be released and to compete.

She is at least the second U.S. bobsledder affected in recent days. Josh Williamson, a member of the men’s two-man and four-man sleds, tested positive last week, part of what has been reported to be a larger outbreak involving coaches and others close to the team. “This has not been an easy pill to swallow,” Williamson wrote of missing the chance to accompany his teammates to China.

The IOC member who tested positive, Emma Terho of Finland, announced her result on Instagram and said she would continue her work remotely while in isolation. Terho serves as chair of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission.

Not all of those who have tested positive but who are still feeling well are certain to miss out on their Olympic moments, however. Meyers Taylor, for example, could benefit from a schedule that won’t see her events start until later in the Games.

Among the latest cases:

— Marita Kramer, an Austrian ski jumper who was expected to contend for a gold medal at the Beijing Games, will not compete because of a lingering coronavirus infection. “No words, no feelings, just emptiness,” Kramer wrote on Instagram. “Is the world really this unfair?” Kramer, 20, tested positive Saturday and had hoped that the infection would ebb in time for her to compete this week. But the Austrian Ski Federation said Kramer had recorded another positive test after returning home and would not be able to clear China’s stringent protocols in time.

— The Russian skeleton racer Nikita Tregubov, who won a silver medal at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, announced on Instagram that he had tested positive and would not travel to Beijing. He and his teammate Vladislav Semenov will be replaced on the team, the president of the Russian bobsled federation told the state news agency Tass.

— An outbreak on Norway’s powerful cross-country ski teams grew to include Heidi Weng, a nine-time world medalist, and her teammate Anne Kjersti Kalva. Earlier, a coach on the men’s team tested positive, briefly sending that entire squad into isolation as close contacts.

— A series of pretournament positives left the Czech men’s hockey team struggling to find enough players to practice last weekend, their coach said, and the Swiss women’s team flew to Beijing without at least two players, Alina Müller and Sinja Leemann. The coaches of both teams said they remained hopeful that their players would be cleared in time to travel and to compete. The women’s tournament begins Thursday; the men don’t play until next Wednesday.

— Russia’s bobsled team arrived in Beijing with half of its four-man squad after Alexei Pushkarev and Vasily Kondratenko recorded positive tests at a training camp in Sochi on the eve of their team’s departure. The head coach of the Russian team, Danil Chaban, said neither man would be replaced, in the hope that they would be cleared in time for the bobsled competition, which begins Feb. 13.

— Denmark’s men’s hockey team held its first pre-Olympic practice Wednesday without the six players who tested positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in China, The Associated Press reported. The Danish Olympic federation announced that Matthias Asperup and Nick Olesen, both forwards, had tested positive and went into isolation. Four other players also missed practice after testing positive, but the team hoped to get the players out of isolation in the coming days.

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