US men’s figure skater Vincent Zhou has tested positive for the coronavirus, and is out of the individual competition at the Beijing Olympics.
In a five-minute video posted to Instagram on Monday night, a teary Zhou announced that he would have to withdraw. He had initially tested positive as part of a routine COVID-19 screening, and underwent additional testing that confirmed his status.
“The enormity of the situation, the pain of it all is pretty insane, but I do recognize that this absolutely does not define me as an athlete, as a person,” Zhou said in the video.
The 21-year-old had struggled through a poor free skate for the eventual team silver medalists a day before, and was due to compete in the individual competition that begins with the men’s short program on Tuesday.
“While it was always my dream to medal on an Olympic stage, which I did before this happened, the overall dream was just to skate,” he said.
Under Olympic protocols, Zhou would have been taken to an “isolation center” immediately upon testing positive. He’ll be required to isolate and tested daily until he shows two negative PCR results at least 24 hours apart and shows no symptoms of illness. The isolation centers have been the subject of criticism, citing issues with the food as well as the cleanliness of the rooms.
According to Yahoo Sports, more than 100 athletes have tested positive for the virus at the Games, which opened on Friday.
Zhou arrived in Beijing with high hopes of contending for a medal. He finished sixth in the men’s program at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, but his second-place finish at the NHK Trophy and victory at Skate American in his two Grand Prix assignments gave him hopes of earning a medal.
In the video, Zhou said he had isolated to the point of crushing loneliness over the past few months in a bid to avoid the virus. He ended on a positive note, though: “This is not the end. This is a setup for a bigger comeback.”