Australian curler Tahli Gill has become the first athlete to fail a coronavirus test in competition and be forced to withdraw from the Beijing Olympics.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has confirmed that Gill returned a series of positive results late on Saturday and was later moved to an isolation hotel.
Gill and partner Dean Hewitt will lose their two remaining matches in the mixed event round robin series. They had lost the seven games they had played.
In a statement, the AOC revealed that Gill tested positive ahead of the Games but was cleared to compete under close contact restrictions.
The statement confirmed: “Tahli had already contracted Covid before the Games.
“However, the ongoing tests alternated between negative and positive. Fortunately, after discussions with the IOC and BOCOG, she had been freed to compete under the Games’ close contact agreements.
“Unfortunately, other successive positive tests ended their Olympic campaign.”
The Australian pair took on Brits Bruce Mouat and Jennifer Dodds on Friday. Gill’s status is unlikely to impact their opponents, given that she was already competing under close contact protocols.
Australian Olympic team chef de mission Geoff Lipshut paid tribute to Gill and Hewitt and said arrangements were being made to try to send the pair home as soon as possible.
“Tahli and Dean made Australian Winter Olympics history and there were only two matches left on their schedule. It’s very disappointing, but we’re realistic about the rules and we’ve always accepted those rules” , Lipshut said.
“We argued that Tahli was at the end of the infection cycle, but further positive results early this morning put an end to our hopes. Rather than staying isolated, we now have the option of bringing Tahli and Dean home.
“They were absolutely magnificent in the face of difficulty. Four of their seven matches have gone to the finish against top opponents. It was a troubled campaign but a very courageous campaign. We are very proud of them.”