India's Winter Olympics team manager tests positive; Arif says he is fine

ByAvishek Roy, New Delhi
Feb 02, 2022 09:33 PM IST

India's Winter Olympics contingent manager Mohd Abbas Wani has tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Beijing on Tuesday.

India's Winter Olympics contingent manager Mohd Abbas Wani has tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Beijing on Tuesday. India is being represented by a lone athlete, skier Arif Khan, who will compete in the slalom and giant slalom events at the Games, starting on Friday. 

Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. (Getty)
Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. (Getty)

Khan is accompanied by a six-member delegation that includes alpine coach Ludar Chand Thakur and technician Puran Chand, team official Roop Chand Negi, besides chef-de-mission Harjinder Singh and manager Wani. Khan and his coach have been shifted to a separate room at Yanqing Village.

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The Organising Committee will do a retest of Wani, informed India's Chef-de-mission Singh. 

“Wani is the only member who tested positive. He even had his booster shot. He is not allowed to move out from his room and a retest will be done after 24hrs. All other team members are fine and staying in separate rooms. Wani’s two pre-departure tests (within 96 and 72 hours prior to departure) came negative,” said Singh from the Olympic Village.

When contacted, Arif said everyone in the contingent is “absolutely fine” and there was no reason to worry.

“We are all doing fine. We are staying in separate flats and not in contact with our manager. He has a bit of cough but no other symptoms, which could be because of his smoking and respiratory issues. We are hoping he comes out negative in the re-test,” said Arif.

Arif said he had taken six pre-departure tests and was tested at the airport upon arrival on Tuesday.

“It is part of any international sporting event now. You have to go through the tests repeatedly for the safety of everyone. There will be more tests during our stay here. We are not in quarantine, just staying separately. We are taking all precautions and following the protocols. I will go to train tomorrow,” said the 31-year-old skier.

According to reports, a total of 200 Covid positive tests related to the Games have been reported since January 23. Of those 200, 67 are athletes and officials. Winter Games organisers are following a vaccination policy, a “closed-loop” bubble management system and daily testing, among measures to ensure safety.

“The testing in Beijing is robust and is reliable. It is the same type of PCR test that is used the world over. For the Games, the test is set at a very sensitive level because what we want to achieve is not to get Omicron into the closed-loop system. Extra reagents and different gene targets have been brought in to ensure that, although we set it very sensitively, we can increase the specificity to exclude false positives,” Dr Brian McCloskey, Chair of the Beijing 2022 Medical Expert Panel (MEP), said.

Arif will keep his fingers crossed as his events are scheduled on February 13 and 16. Being the lone athlete from India, Arif, who hails from Gulmarg, calls it a special feeling to represent the country.

“I am quite excited. My heart swells with pride when I think that I am getting to represent 1.4 billion people," he said. "That’s a huge honour. I am hoping through my participation in the Winter Olympics, the world will also know that India is a great place to develop winter sports. I am enjoying every bit of my stay in the village.”

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