China accused of ignoring human rights of hockey players as isolation complaints mount

BEIJING, Feb 6 (Reuters) – The coach of Finland’s men’s ice hockey team on Sunday accused China of failing to respect a player’s human rights amid complaints over security protocols. COVID-19 isolation were piling up at the Winter Games.

Finnish head coach Jukka Jalonen said Marko Anttila, a ninth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, “wasn’t eating well” and was suffering from tremendous mental stress. Read more

“We know he is completely healthy and ready to go and that’s why we believe that China for some reason will not respect his human rights and that’s not a good situation,” he said. Head Coach Jalonen on a Zoom call with the media.

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Anttila was no longer contagious but continued to be kept in COVID-19 isolation after testing positive 18 days ago, according to the team doctor.

More than 350 Games participants, including dozens of athletes, have tested positive upon arrival in the Chinese capital since Jan. 23. They can only leave the special quarantine hotels once they are symptom-free and negative in two PCR tests 24 hours apart.

Several Games participants have complained about the isolation conditions, as well as confusing procedures regarding permission to leave. Organizers said on Sunday they were trying to address the complaints. Read more

“We are in the process of resolving these issues,” said Zhao Weidong, spokesperson for the Beijing Games, adding that they would now allow an athlete to order food from the village.

The International Ice Hockey Federation will meet with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Sunday to discuss Anttila and other athlete cases, Jalonen said. Finland opens group play on Thursday against Slovakia.

“I hope we find something positive,” said the coach.


A pair of Australian curlers were given a reprieve later on Sunday after learning earlier that one had returned a series of positive tests and would be placed in solitary confinement.

Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt were able to participate in the mixed doubles curling tournament after being cleared by a panel of medical experts, the Australian team said. Read more

On Saturday, German team leader Dirk Schimmelpfennig called the conditions imposed on three-time Olympic gold medalist Eric Frenzel and two other German athletes “unacceptable”.

Ice Hockey – 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship – Final – Gold Medal – Finland v Canada – Arena Riga, Riga, Latvia – June 6, 2021 Marko Anttila of Finland looks dejected after losing the World Hockey Championship final on ice IIHF 2021 REUTERS/ Vasily Fedosenko

He demanded a complete overhaul including bigger and cleaner rooms, working internet, sports equipment and better food. Read more

Schimmelpfennig said on Sunday organizers acted after being contacted by the team, the ski federation and the IOC.

“We have managed since yesterday to achieve a marked improvement in the conditions for the athletes,” he told reporters.

“Now the athletes have a satisfactory framework of conditions. They now have bigger halls, working WiFi, an exercise bike in the hall, so we have appropriate and satisfactory conditions in a very difficult situation for the athletes. athletes,” he said.


Polish short track speed skater Natalia Maliszewska posted on Twitter that her Beijing Olympics had become a “horror” story after she tested positive on January 30. She claimed to have received several positive and negative tests.

Finally, the day of departure (Saturday) at 3:00 in the morning, I was taken out of isolation… This night was a horror.

“I slept with my clothes on because I was afraid that someone would take me to solitary again in a moment. I only looked through the curtains a bit. With one eye, because I was afraid someone would see me.”

Hours later, Maliszewska said she had packed her bags for the rink to compete in the 500-meter heats.

“And suddenly the news that they made a mistake! That they shouldn’t let me out of solitary! That I’m a threat after all! That I can’t compete. I have to go back to the village at faster.”

On Sunday night, Maliszewska posted a photo of herself at the edge of the rink, declaring “I’m back!”

Swedish journalist Philip Gadd, who was taken to solitary confinement in an ambulance when he arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, described his confusion and fear in a diary he writes for his newspaper.

“It was a really terrifying experience and I just felt like…it didn’t feel real to me. It was like I was in a movie, a sci-fi movie or something,” he told Reuters in a Zoom interview from his quarantine hotel. Read more

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Reporting by Steve Keating, Julien Pretot, Ilze Fiks, Philip O’Connor and Karolos Grohmann in Beijing; Written by Leela de Kretser; Editing by Ken Ferris and Clare Fallon

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Catherine J. Martinez