Q&A: How will the coronavirus have an effect on the Olympics?

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – The US still has the highest number of coronavirus cases in any country, and its market leader only tested positive this week.

“I think the biggest benefit is that anyone can become infected, even someone who leads a very controlled life and lives in a very controlled environment, if you don't adhere to public health interventions about them we've talked for the past 6 years or 7 months about how to wear a mask and social distancing. Not only can you be infected, but everyone in your social environment can also be infected, ”said Dr. Stephen Thomas, director of infectious diseases at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, New York.

This raises questions about how the Olympics will ensure the safety of competitions if cases persist in participating countries.

"The priori concern is to bring only the athletes and people who need to support the athletes," he said, noting that just those people would likely include more than 10,000 people.

He also said that when developing a vaccine, countries need to determine who can get it first. Many groups have shared a priority list that includes people at high risk of infection, such as: B. Healthcare workers or people who would be very negatively affected if the virus were to pass, e.g. B. older people or people with pre-existing illnesses.

"In the midst of a pandemic, there are several groups that have gone online and set their priorities, and young healthy athletes would not be in the first three stages of these schemes," said Dr. Thomas.

In the meantime, the International Olympic Committee is reinvigorating Olympic traditions such as the torch relay. It will now start on March 21, 2021 and end with the opening ceremony on July 23.

Preparation for the first Olympic Games

Surfing will make its debut at these Olympics. In an interview with KSEE, the world famous surfer Kelly Slater said during training that he and others could train safely.

"We're in the ocean. We're pretty socially distant," Slater said during an appearance at his $ 30 million man-made California surf ranch in August. "I was in Australia for three months and the whole time I was was there, you could surf the whole time and COVID-19 was super under control. So I don't think surfing is the problem and I think it makes sense that we're out there again. "

Slater lost in the semi-finals of the last qualifying tournament in December and can't keep up, but his ranch has become a useful training ground for others.

Andrew Marden of KSEE said surfing was one of five new sports in these Olympics. A total of 20 men and 20 women take part, and each country can have a maximum of two surfers per gender.

"The US team is impressive," said Marden. “The girl Caroline Marks in my story – 18 years old. She finished last year again at just 18 when she was the second tallest woman in the country and Carissa Moore, who is number one in the world, also American. She is a four-time world champion from Honolulu. I think the expectations for the US are pretty high. "

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