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Misfortune Strikes Top US Figure Skater 1 Day Before He Was to Compete for Olympic Gold

  American figure skater Vincent Zhou was forced to withdraw from the Olympics after Chinese authorities said he tested positive for the cor...

 American figure skater Vincent Zhou was forced to withdraw from the Olympics after Chinese authorities said he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Zhou had helped the men’s figure skating team capture a silver medal in the Beijing Games.

The 21-year-old skater, who tested positive on Monday, was forced to withdraw one day before he would have begun competing for a gold medal in singles.

“There’s a mixed bag of emotions, obviously, but I’m still processing everything and letting things flow and fortunately I’m pretty good at seeing different perspectives at once and grounding myself,” Zhou said during an interview with NBC’s “Today.”

“I was asymptomatic all up until the sudden positive test so it definitely did come as a shock,” he said, noting that he was now focused on the March world championships.

Zhou said he was stunned at the news.

“It seems pretty unreal that of all the people it would happen to myself, and that’s not just because I’m still processing this turn of events but also because I have been doing everything in my power to stay free of COVID since the start of the pandemic,” he said, according to The Sporting News.

“I’ve taken all the precautions I can. I’ve isolated myself so much that the loneliness I felt in the last month or two has been crushing at times.”

Both the Sporting News and ESPN said Zhou “was widely expected to compete for a medal.”

China, which is hosting the Games, has been the focus of anger for the way athletes who have tested positive have been treated.

Some have theorized that the isolation required in quarantine could impact the overall competitive integrity of the Beijing Olympics.

Some have also questioned how rules are being interpreted in China.

On Saturday, the U.S. was penalized in the semifinal heat of the mixed team relay of speedskating to the benefit of China.

South Korean short-track speedskater Kwak Yoon-gy told reporters the Chinese victory was suspect, according to the South Korean Yonhap News Agency. He thought the Chinese skater, the U.S. skater and a skater from the Russian Olympic Committee would be disciplined.

“I was watching that race unfold. I figured China, ROC and the U.S. would get penalized. The Dutch skaters who were watching it with me said the same thing,” he said, according to Yonhap.

“But as the review dragged on, I figured China was going to be allowed to progress. And when the call was finally made, I found it difficult to accept it,” Kwak said. “If it had been any other country than China in that situation, I wondered if that team would still have been allowed to reach the final like that?”

If Zhou’s disqualification was intended to help China, it appears to have failed.

Halfway through the finals in the men’s figure skating, American Nathan Chen was leading, with China’s top competitor in 11th place, according to The New York Times.

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