Olympic swimming champion Cameron van der Burgh says he has been battling coronavirus for the last two weeks and that athletes who continue to train for the Tokyo Games are exposing themselves to “unnecessary risk”.
South African 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.
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He said that while the most severe symptoms from the virus 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.”
2/ I have been struggling with Covid-19 for 14 days today. 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)— Cameron van der Burgh (@Cameronvdburgh) March 22, 2020
4/ The loss in body conditioning has been immense and 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.— Cameron van der Burgh (@Cameronvdburgh) March 22, 2020
6/ Please, look after yourself everyone! Health comes first - COVID-19 is no joke!— Cameron van der Burgh (@Cameronvdburgh) March 22, 2020
Why 2020 Olympics should be postponed
More than 14,600 people have died globally since the coronavirus outbreak began.
Van der Burgh, 31, said athletes who contract the virus will 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 the Olympics to be postponed.
Canada became the first country to boycott the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic and Australia on Monday told its athletes to prepare for the Olympics to be postponed to 2021.
“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,” he 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.”
IOC member says Olympics will be postponed
International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound says the IOC has already decided to postpone the Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The IOC has given itself four weeks to decide on the future of this year's Games.
But in a newspaper report Pound said the Games were likely now to be held in 2021, with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound told USA Today on Monday.
“The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
Pound also told Reuters that the IOC had tried to hold fire in order to be able to present the hosts, sports federations and sponsors with a clear alternative plan.
“Probably what turned the tide in the last couple of days is the curve on the COVID-19 virus,” he said.