A Polish skater cried in the back of an ambulance amid confusion over isolation

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BEIJING, Feb 7 (Reuters) – A Polish short track speed skater on Monday recalled “crying like crazy” in the back of an ambulance after knocking at 3 a.m. on the door of his isolated hotel room at the Winter Games by employees wearing cameras on their belts.

Natalia Maliszewska, 26, described a ‘traumatic’ experience, during which she said she was repeatedly barred from the Games due to conflicting COVID-19 test results, in an interview with Reuters after eventually being allowed in to compete.

“I was sitting in the ambulance. It was 3am. I was crying like crazy because I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t feel safe at all,” she said .

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Protests over isolation conditions and protocols have piled up in Beijing, with athletes complaining about food, their mental health, testing and confusing procedures regarding being allowed to leave.

The coach of Finland’s men’s ice hockey team on Sunday accused China of failing to respect the human rights of Marko Anttila, saying the Chicago Blackhawks’ ninth-round draft pick ‘wasn’t getting good food’ and suffered from enormous mental stress. Read more

More than 350 Games participants, including dozens of athletes, have tested positive upon arrival in the Chinese capital since Jan. 23. They are only supposed to leave the special quarantine hotels once they are symptom-free and test negative in two PCR tests 24 hours apart. .

International Olympic Committee sporting director Kit McConnell said on Monday that isolating athletes was a top priority.

He added that the IOC had held a call with Olympic officials from countries represented at the Games to understand the issues the athletes were facing.

“Isolated athletes remain a top priority. There is a collective responsibility to support these athletes,” he told a news conference. “It’s not easy for anyone in this situation. We completely understand.”

“There are still individual circumstances that are difficult.”

IN, OUT, IN AND OUT AGAIN

Maliszewska, 26, told Reuters she was rushed out of her isolation hotel into the ambulance in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“They told me at midnight I could go out and five minutes later I couldn’t,” she said. “They told me there was so much political stuff you wouldn’t understand. It’s China.”

She said she had tested positive again, but was nonetheless told she was cleared to train for the evening heats of the 500 meters – a discipline in which she is ranked third in the world.

“Then I got the message half an hour before I was going to warm up that they made a mistake, like the organization made the mistake and I can’t compete because I’m dangerous for the people. people,” she said.

She said she was tested again on Saturday evening and received a negative result the next morning.

“I don’t believe in all these tests anymore,” she said. “I want explanations from the people who made me feel in danger, because no one is saying anything now. They are silent.”

MORE CASES

On Sunday, Finnish ice hockey head coach Jukka Jalonen said Anttila was no longer contagious, according to the team doctor, but continued to be kept in COVID-19 isolation after testing positive there. 18 days ago.

“We know he is completely healthy and ready to go and that is why we believe China for some reason will not respect his human rights and that is not a good situation,” Jalonen said. during a Zoom call with the media.

A pair of Australian curlers have been given a reprieve after learning earlier that one had returned a series of positive tests and would be placed in solitary confinement. Read more

German team leader Dirk Schimmelpfennig said organizers had taken steps to improve the isolation conditions for three-time Olympic gold medalist Eric Frenzel and two other German athletes he had previously described as “unacceptable “.

Swedish journalist Philip Gadd was taken to solitary confinement in an ambulance upon arriving in Beijing on Wednesday.

“It was a really terrifying experience and I just felt like…it didn’t feel real to me. It was like I was in a movie, a sci-fi movie or something,” he told Reuters in a Zoom interview from his quarantine hotel. Read more

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Reporting by Steve Keating, Julien Pretot, Ilze Fiks, Philip O’Connor and Karolos Grohmann in Beijing; Written by Leela de Kretser; Editing by Ken Ferris and Clare Fallon

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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