Former Olympic swimming champion Cameron van der Burgh says that he has been battling COVID-19 for the past two weeks and that athletes who continue to train for the Tokyo Olympic Games are exposing themselves to “unnecessary risk.”
South Africa’s Van der Burgh won gold in the 100m breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympics and silver in Rio four years later, before retiring in 2018.
He said that while the most severe symptoms of the coronavirus had passed, he was still exhausted by any physical activity.
“I have been struggling with COVID-19 for 14 days today,” he wrote on Twitter. “By far the worst virus I have ever endured despite being a healthy individual with strong lungs (no smoking/sport), living a healthy lifestyle and being young (least at-risk demographic). Although the most severe symptoms (extreme fever) have eased, I am still struggling with serious fatigue and a residual cough that I can’t shake. Any physical activity like walking leaves me exhausted for hours.”
Van der Burgh, 31, said athletes who contract the coronavirus would struggle to get back in peak condition for the Games, which are scheduled to start on July 24, though there have been growing calls for them to be postponed.
Canada yesterday became the first nation to boycott the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic, while Australia told its athletes to prepare for the Olympics to be postponed to next year.
“The loss in body conditioning has been immense and I can only feel for the athletes that contract COVID-19 as they will suffer a great loss of current conditioning through the last training cycle. Infection closer to competition being the worst,” Van der Burgh said. “Athletes will continue to train as there is no clarification regarding the summer Games and thus are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk — and those that do contract will try rush back to training most likely enhancing/extending the damage/recovery time.”
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