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S. Korean athletes to be tested for coronavirus before returning to training center

April 27, 2020 - 12:00 By Yonhap


South Korean Olympic athletes set to resume training next month will be tested for the coronavirus before their return to the national facilities, officials said Monday.

The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) said the first batch of athletes and coaches to reenter the Jincheon National Training Center next month will undergo COVID-19 tests from May 11-13 at four designated hospitals.

Those hospitals are located in Seoul and near Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of the capital. Athletes and coaches will be quarantined at accommodations near those hospitals while awaiting their results.

Soon after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics got postponed by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic late last month, the KSOC decided to send about 500 athletes and coaches home to recharge. They had been holed up inside the facilities, tucked into a quiet corner in a small town located some 90 kilometers south of Seoul, for months on end to prepare for the Olympics. With the coronavirus raging, they weren't permitted to leave the grounds.

The KSOC sanitized the Jincheon center once it was emptied out by March 27. And thanks to the steady decline in new coronavirus cases and professional baseball and football leagues having set new start dates for their seasons, the KSOC felt it safe to put Olympic athletes back on track for the Tokyo Games.

According to the KSOC, about 360 athletes and coaches in nine sports, including gymnastics, table tennis, boxing, fencing and badminton, will report back during the week of May 11.

"We'll try to minimize contact among athletes in different sports in order to prevent infection within the training center," a KSOC official said. "They'll only be allowed to spend time in their training facilities and residence."

The KSOC hasn't yet decided when the next group of athletes will return to Jincheon. It said summer sports athletes will arrive before winter sports athletes. (Yonhap)