Athlete gets to compete at Olympics despite positive Covid-19 test


A medical panel said Tahli Gill could keep on competing in Beijing due to her coronavirus reading falling into “acceptable range”

Australia’s Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt will be able to compete in the curling mixed double tournament at the Winter Games in Beijing after the Medical Expert Panel (MEP) ruled that Gill could compete despite a positive Covid-19 test.

Gill was placed in isolation in the Chinese capital after several of her coronavirus tests returned positive late on Saturday. The 22-year-old, who said that she had been “heartbroken” by the development, was already packing her bags and getting ready to return to Australia.

But good news suddenly came on Sunday afternoon, with the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) revealing that it had “just received an email from the Chinese Public Health System advising that the pair can continue under the Close Contact provisions.”

According to the AOC, the Medical Expert Panel had examined Gill’s tests from the last 24 hours and “determined that they fell into an acceptable range.”

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This meant that Gill and Hewitt, who became the first Australians ever to qualify for an Olympics curling tournament, were able to come out on the ice to play Switzerland on Sunday. The debutants lost all of their previous matches in Beijing, but were able make history against their Swiss rivals, cruising to a 9-6 victory. Despite the win, the Australian team remains bottom of the standings and the pairing face Canada in their last match.

Gill had originally contracted the coronavirus in December, with her CT levels wavering between positive and negative since then. The athlete said that her system had just been “really slow at shedding off dead virus,” while insisting that she hadn’t been infectious for a long time already. In Beijing, the Australian was treated as a “close contact,” which includes movement restrictions and testing two times per day.

“We are thrilled for Tahli and Dean and I am delighted that our headquarters team continued pressing her case, after earlier advice that the pair could no longer compete,” Geoff Lipshut, Australia’s Chef de Mission, said of the decision by the MEP.

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