Belgian Triathlete tests positive for Covid-19, will miss part of Tokyo Olympics
Friday, 23 July 2021
Belgian triathlete Jelle Geens has tested positive for Covid-19, making him the first Belgian-selected athlete to miss the Olympic Games because of the coronavirus.
The 9th ranked athlete in the world will miss the individual event in Tokyo on Monday 26 July, but it’s possible that the 28-year-old Leuven native will still be able to participate in the mixed competition on Saturday 31 July.
“After experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 a fortnight ago, he underwent a first test which was negative. He is waiting for the result of the second test before he can fly to Japan,” said Philippe Vander Putten, CEO of the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee (COIB), in Tokyo on Friday.
“In the meantime, he is in good shape, has no symptoms and continues to train in Belgium.”
The COIB didn’t know if the athlete had been vaccinated or not.
According to the Athlete’s Playbook for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, a departure for Tokyo is only possible if the traveller has not shown any symptoms during the 14 days prior to departure and has tested negative in a Japanese accredited laboratory twice in the last 96 hours, one of which was less than 72 hours prior to departure.
Geens’ participation in the mixed relay is not yet certain.
Faced with this situation, “plan B” was launched and athlete Noah Servais was sent to Tokyo to secure the participation of the Belgian Hammers in the mixed relay.
“He is preparing for the Team Belgium Belfius Basecamp in Mito as a reserve athlete and is ready for the mixed relay in case Jelle Geens does not arrive in Japan on time,” said the COIB.
In that case, Servais would team up with Marten Van Riel, Claire Michel and Valérie Barthelemy for the Belgian Hammers.
Van Riel will be Belgium’s only representative in the men’s individual event on Monday. The women’s individual event takes place on Tuesday 27 July.
Jelle Geens hopes to be cleared to participate in his second Olympic Games in Tokyo. He finished 38th at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.