Athletes face virus testing before Olympic training return

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Athletes face virus testing before Olympic training return

Korean Olympic athletes set to resume training next month will be tested for the coronavirus before their return to the national facilities, officials said Monday.

The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) said the first batch of athletes and coaches to re-enter the Jincheon National Training Center next month will undergo tests from May 11-13 at four designated hospitals.

Those hospitals are located in Seoul and near Jincheon, 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of the capital. Athletes and coaches will be quarantined at accommodations near those hospitals while awaiting their results.

Soon after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics got postponed by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic late last month, the KSOC decided to send about 500 athletes and coaches home. They had been holed up inside the facilities, tucked into a quiet corner in a small town located some 90 kilometers south of Seoul, for months on end to prepare for the Olympics. With the coronavirus raging, they weren’t permitted to leave the grounds.

The KSOC sanitized the Jincheon center once it was emptied out by March 27. And thanks to the steady decline in new coronavirus cases and professional baseball and football leagues having set new start dates for their seasons, the KSOC felt it safe to put Olympic athletes back on track for the Tokyo Games.

According to the KSOC, about 360 athletes and coaches in nine sports, including gymnastics, table tennis, boxing, fencing and badminton, will report back during the week of May 11.

“We’ll try to minimize contact among athletes in different sports in order to prevent infection within the training center,” a KSOC official said. “They’ll only be allowed to spend time in their training facilities and residence.”

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