Athletes Cautious After Fencers Contract Coronavirus

  • By Sung Jin-hyuk, Kim Eun-gyeong

    March 20, 2020 10:54

    The spreading coronavirus epidemic is now affecting athletes who have been training in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province.

    The national training center with state-of-the-art sports facilities there is in a grim mood after three female fencers tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week upon their return from a competition in Hungary. They will have to quarantine themselves for a considerable time and won't be able to return to the center until the risk of transmitting the virus has been eliminated.

    Some 500 athletes and coaching staff are training there in preparation for this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo. They have been cautious since late January to protect themselves from the virus and get themselves fully ready for the Olympics.

    All visits are prohibited and athletes are not allowed to leave. If someone is required to visit a doctor, they must get approval first. Some 350 staff are taking stringent precautions and limiting their commutes.

    Table tennis players pose for a photo at a training center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province on Thursday. /Yonhap

    The center is free from coronavirus thanks to such precautionary measures, but stress levels are growing. Athletes can no longer enjoy karaoke, movies, billiards or table tennis on weekends, since all multipurpose facilities and recreational spaces have been closed, as they could easily draw large numbers of people.

    Most depressing of all, however, are the rumors that the Olympics will be canceled or postponed. Athletes have been training hard for four years to earn the honor of competing at the Olympics, so they hope their efforts won't be in vain.

    "It seems there are virtually no safe places, so we've been very cautious about the possible spread of infections here," a sports official at the center said. "I would like to thank our athletes for remaining patient and being cooperative in stemming the spread of the virus as they go through a tough time," she added.

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