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Olympic officials move quickly after skeleton rider posts tearful video from COVID isolation

The video by Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans quickly captured attention and raised questions about how her mental health was being affected.

Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans was permitted to enter one of the Olympic villages early Thursday, a move that came hours after she tearfully turned to social media and detailed how upset she was about being in isolation over virus concerns.

Meylemans tested positive for COVID-19 upon her arrival at the Beijing Olympics, which meant she had to enter isolation and return several negative tests before being cleared to move into the Yanqing Olympic Village. She thought that was happening Wednesday and boarded an ambulance for what she thought was a ride to that village.

“But the ambulance went to another facility,” Meylemans said in an Instagram post that quickly captured attention and raised questions about how her mental health was being affected by the saga.

Belgian Olympic officials and the International Olympic Committee intervened and Meylemans was brought to the Yanqing Village, where she will be in an isolated room and still needs seven days of testing before she can be released from that wing.

That said, at least she’s among other Olympians — and she said she immediately felt safer.

“Our main goal was to get Kim to the Olympic Village in Yanqing as quickly as possible,” Belgian Olympic delegation leader Olav Spahl said. “We are therefore very pleased that this has now been successfully achieved. We understand that the COVID measures are necessary to safeguard the safety and health of participants in the Games, but we believe that the athlete should always be at the center of such an approach.”

The IOC apparently agreed, saying it made “immediate contact with the NOC of Belgium to ensure that appropriate support is offered” to Meylemans after learning of her video and movement to another isolation facility Wednesday.

“Relieved to hear that Kim Meylemans is now in the Olympic Village,” IOC spokesman Christian Klaue tweeted. “We are glad that all the efforts led to the successful resolution of this situation.”

Meylemans was 14th in her debut Olympics at Pyeongchang in 2018, but is expected to be more of a contender at the Beijing Games. She has one medal from World Cup races this season, that being a bronze, and was no worse than sixth in five of the final six races on the circuit this season.

Official training for women’s skeleton starts next week, with the competition Feb. 12. At one point Wednesday, Meylemans’ plans to compete seemed in some question. By early Thursday, the outlook was considerably brighter.

“It seems like the video and the efforts of my Olympic committee have really paid off,” Meylemans said.

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