Russian hockey player Anisimov comes out of solitary confinement for the Olympics

OSLO, Norway (AP) — A coronavirus outbreak is spreading through Norway’s powerhouse cross-country ski team, with two-time Olympic champion Simen Hegstad Kruger becoming the third skier in two days to test positive ahead of the Beijing Games.

Norwegian team doctor Øystein Andersen told a press conference on Thursday that Hegstad Kruger was self-isolating and had no symptoms. Her positive test comes after two-time World Cup winner Heidi Weng was among two members of Norway’s women’s team to test positive on Wednesday. That means two big medal contenders for Norway’s ever-dominant cross-country team are now major doubts for Beijing.

“It’s an extreme situation,” Andersen said from the team’s training camp in the Italian Alpine resort of Seiser Alm. “We have to limit the damage as best we can.”

Hegstad Kruger won gold in the 30k skiathlon race and silver in the 15k event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, where he also helped Norway win the men’s relay.

The entire men’s team has been in isolation at Seiser Alm after head coach Arild Monsen tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to Norway on Monday. The team plans to return to Norway on Sunday and then depart for Beijing on Monday, and it was still unclear whether Hegstad Kruger and Weng will be able to join them later.

People who have recently been infected with the virus must submit five negative tests to enter China for the Olympics, which begin on February 4.

Earlier Thursday, the Russian Hockey Federation said former NHL forward Artem Anisimov came out of solitary confinement after testing negative for the coronavirus and rejoined its Olympic team.

Anisimov has the most NHL experience of any Russian roster with 771 regular-season games played for four teams in 13 seasons, most recently for the Ottawa Senators in 2020-21.

The federation first announced he tested positive for the virus on Wednesday evening in a statement to state news agency Tass, saying he had been replaced on the 25-man list by Vladimir Tkachev and transferred in the taxi team.

“Artem Anisimov provided a negative test and spent the required time in quarantine in Novogorsk (training base) and joined the team today,” team manager Ilya Kovalchuk told the website on Thursday. the Federation.

The Russians are the defending champions after winning gold in Pyeongchang four years ago. They open the tournament on February 9 against Switzerland, and they also face the Czech Republic and Denmark as a group.

There was no information on when Anisimov tested positive or how long he spent in solitary confinement.

There have been five cases of the virus reported among Russian Olympic athletes this week, including one in figure skating, one in skeleton and two in the same bobsleigh crew.

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Catherine J. Martinez