In an emotional video posted to his Instagram account, Team USA figure skater Vincent Zhou explained that he tested positive for COVID-19 and is withdrawing from the men’s figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“I have tested positive for COVID-19, and unfortunately I will have to withdraw from the individual event starting tomorrow,” he said. “It seems pretty unreal that of all people it would happen to myself. Not just because I am still processing this turn of events, but because I have been doing everything in my power to stay free of COVID since the start of the pandemic…I am more than just another positive COVID test. I am more than just another face in the crowd.”
Zhou did participate in the team figure skating event on the morning of Feb. 6, in the men’s free program portion. The US earned silver in the event, the country’s highest finish in the team competition yet.
U.S. Figure Skating said Zhou tested positive on the day he competed in the team event, as part of the daily PCR testing performed on all athletes at the Games. Any positive test is followed up by another confirmatory test. According to the Beijing Olympic playbook, athletes who test positive are immediately moved to a separate isolation facility if they don’t have symptoms, and to a hospital if they do. They cannot leave isolation until they produce two negative tests, 24 hours apart. That prevents Zhou from participating in the men’s competition, which starts on Feb. 8 Beijing time.
“I have taken all the precautions I can,” Zhou continued in his Instagram video. “I’ve isolated myself so much that the loneliness I felt in the last month or two has been crushing at times. The enormity of the situation—just the pain of it all is pretty insane.”
Zhou trains in Colorado Springs and has been attending Brown University. The national bronze medalist is the only skater to have beaten teammate Nathan Chen this season, and was hoping to better his sixth-place finish at the last Olympics in 2018.
Getting emotional in his video, Zhou addressed his future self, to remind himself of what he’s accomplished and reassure himself that new opportunities to continue skating at the elite level emerge. “Little 8-year-old you would be asking 21-year-old you for photos and autographs and everything. You know why? Because you lived out your dreams. You became the person you always aspired to be. When you were young, sitting on the couch watching those great skaters on TV, studying their jumps every night at the dinner table, and waking up at 4 am or earlier to go into the rink and skate and do double jumps, you had no idea what you were getting into. But you had a dream and you followed it…Today you are that person, Vincent. You made it happen.”
Zhou said he was grateful to his teammates and for winning the silver medal with them, and vowed to return to competition at the world championships if he is given the opportunity. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t continue this journey with you guys any longer, and our paths diverge from here. But it’s for a good cause. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to represent Team USA at the World Championships and I will be back stronger then, I will be back better then. This is not the end. This is a setup for a bigger comeback. Vincent Zhou, signing out,” he said, as he saluted the camera.
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