FINA Confirms 15 Athletes Tested Positive For COVID-19 At SC Worlds

FINA has confirmed that 15 athletes tested positive for COVID-19 at the 2021 Short Course World Championships in Abu Dhabi, according to Inside The Games, with a total of 37 positive cases reported at the competition that wrapped up on Tuesday.

The positive test count does not include those who were isolated for contact tracing, and FINA has still not offered an explanation for what happened with Nigeria—the country’s entire delegation was forced to withdraw from the meet due to one positive test from an administrator, someone which at least one athlete claimed to have never come into contact with at the competition.

The rules dictated that three positive tests would knock out an entire delegation, which is what happened with Singapore, but the situation didn’t apply to Nigeria. We also saw other countries, such as Great Britain, still have athletes able to compete despite a member of the team testing positive.

A FINA spokesperson told SwimSwam that there were 3,830 accredited individuals (athletes, national federation delegations, officials, FINA staff and guests, local organizing committee, etc) in Abu Dhabi for the FINA Aquatics Festival (including the open water and high diving competitions), meaning that right around one percent tested positive.

“FINA is grateful to the local authorities for their extensive support in safeguarding the health of all participants,” the spokesperson said, adding that daily case numbers remained low as public health measures were followed.

In addition to the situation with Nigeria, Singapore was forced to withdraw from the meet after four positives, while only 2 of 21 South Africans expected to compete were able to race in Abu Dhabi due to the country’s travel ban.

We saw a total of five American swimmers withdraw early for COVID-related reasons, and Great Britain’s Max Litchfield was among the confirmed positive tests. His teammate, Tom Dean, withdrew after being deemed a close contact of Litchfield.

FINA president Husain Al Musallam said he was “very happy” with the competition overall considering there was close to 5,000 participants at the championships among athletes, coaches, staff, volunteers and media.

This included more than 1,000 athletes, including 937 swimmers (athletes also competed in the open water swimming and high diving competitions in Abu Dhabi).

“The pandemic is a challenge for us, not only for the sport but swimming in Abu Dhabi and the whole sector,” Al-Musallam said. “I think sport, organizing competitions and putting safe measures in place is the only way to keep people training and competing.

“We have to do our best and then we have to get used to life with COVID. It will not go on forever, it will last for a long time and we have to adjust ourselves to it.”

General secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Aref Hamad Al Awani, told Inside The Games that those who tested positive were being “treated in a very good manner” and were isolated in “one of the finest five-star hotels”.

“The precaution measures were to the maximum,” he said.

Daily case counts in the UAE have seen a significant increase since athletes started arriving in Abu Dhabi, though the numbers remain relatively low compared to the rest of the world.

From Dec. 1-10, the country reported an average of just under 60 new daily cases, and from Dec. 11-20, that number rose to over 170 new cases per day.

On Dec. 21, the UAE reported 452 new cases, the country’s highest daily count since mid-September.

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Daeleb Cressel
2 years ago

How do they define close contact? How was Tom Dean the only close contact to Litchfield in team GB?

2 years ago

Instead of breathless counts of positive cases, how about reporting whether or not anyone is actually sick?

These mild cases aren’t worth hysteria

Reply to  Doconc
2 years ago

There’s no hysteria in the article.

Reply to  Doconc
2 years ago

And they were probably all vaccinated

2 years ago

Julio Maglione tested positive!
Also a Uruguayan swimmer, where coach and other swimmer were advised to leave the meet (they tested negative) while the other two swimmers were left competing and where close contact to the one who tested positive. No criterias!!!

2 years ago

Tom dean coulda gone for the Hattrick smh

The condors were robbed
2 years ago

On this list : Andrew

Reply to  The condors were robbed
2 years ago

Source that he tested positive?

Reply to  The condors were robbed
2 years ago

mans literally chilling in cali. highly doubtful

Reply to  swimmerinlane9
2 years ago

I thought I saw that he was in Minnesota yesterday – not sure if that was just a layover 0or what.

2 years ago

so which American is still quarantining in the hotel as of today?

Reply to  Jojorab
2 years ago

Pretty sure they all flew home.

Reply to  Jojorab
2 years ago

I think Katie Grimes.

Stoked 2 b vaccinated
Reply to  Noah
2 years ago

What about Jacoby?

Reply to  Stoked 2 b vaccinated
2 years ago

Jacoby confirmed on Instagram she had to withdraw from the competition after close contact with a positive case, but after testing negative multiple times she was allowed to return home.

Really feel for Katie Grimes if she is the positive case (as seems likely). Isolating alone in a foreign country over the holidays at age 15 can’t be easy! I at least hope some member(s) of the US coaching team have remained behind to travel back to the States with Katie when she is allowed to leave.

Reply to  Stoked 2 b vaccinated
2 years ago

she’s already back in Alaska

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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