American Olympic figure skater Vincent Zhou announced in a five-minute Instagram video that he will be withdrawing from the upcoming individual figure skating competition after testing positive for COVID-19.
Zhou, 21, who participated in the men’s single’s free skating team event on Sunday, was confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) medical staff on Monday, the Olympics said in a statement.
“As part of yesterday’s regular COVID-19 screening, Vincent Zhou tested positive,” the USOPC statement read. “Under the guidance of the USOPC medical staff, Zhou is undergoing additional testing to confirm his status. If the results are negative, Zhou will be able to compete in the men’s short program, which begins Tuesday. At this time, we ask you [to] respect his privacy as we await the results.”
On Monday, Zhou posted a video on Instagram and confirmed the positive result. He then announced that he will be withdrawing from the Winter Games’ individual figure skating competition, CBS News reported.
Zhou also explained that he took precautionary measures ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, revealing that he even isolated himself for months before the event.
“I’ve taken all the precautions I can. I’ve isolated myself so much that the loneliness I’ve felt in the last month or two has been crushing at times,” Zhou said in the video.
As a way to avoid getting COVID-19, the Californian athlete said he avoided socializing in the Olympic Village common rooms, ate alone, wore N95 masks and routinely sterilized his hands, according to the New York Times.
“The enormity of the situation, the pain of it all is pretty insane. But I do recognize that this absolutely does not define me as an athlete, as a person… While it was always my dream to medal on an Olympic stage, which I did accomplish before this happened, the overarching dream was just to skate. If I didn’t love this I wouldn’t still be doing it.”
Zhou competed in the figure skating team event on Sunday as a substitute for Team USA member Nathan Chen. He helped his team secure a silver medal win after placing third in the men’s free skate, NPR reported. The silver medal was reportedly supposed to “give Zhou momentum heading into the individual competition” on Tuesday.
“We are so proud of Olympic silver medalist @govincentzhou. Wishing you a speedy recovery,” U.S. Figure Skating wrote in a tweet on Monday. “#TeamUSA is behind you!”
Karen Chen, Zhou’s figure skating teammate, told Reuters that his positive result was “definitely very unfortunate news.” Zhou “deserves to be here, to be in this moment with all of us,” she added.
Team USA will now compete with only two male members, Nathan Chen and Jason Brown, for the men’s events. The U.S. is not allowed to replace Zhou with another skater since he has already competed on Olympic ice.