Lizzy Yarnold, a 29-year-old athlete, is the most successful British Winter Olympian of all time. She’s a skeleton racer and was the heavy favorite at this year’s 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But, because of some underlying sickness concerns throughout the Olympics and an intense feeling of dizziness, she revealed that she nearly quit, almost relinquishing her chance at being the only Briton in history to defend a Winter Olympics title.
“After the first run yesterday I was almost at the point of pulling out,” Yarnold said. “My chest infection was stopping me from breathing.
Dizziness is the second most common complaint heard in doctor’s offices, and will occur in approximately 70% of the population at some point — but on the Olympic stage? Yarnold suffered intense spells of dizziness and was worried she was severely ill, but managed to pull it together, compete once again, and win another gold medal.
Many athletes, however, as well as Olympic officials, trainers, media members, and fans haven’t been as lucky and have succumbed to an extremely continuous stomach bug known as norovirus.
According to The New York Times, the norovirus outbreak was first announced moments before the Games’ opening ceremony, with 41 security guards having tested positive for the virus. Additionally, the first two athletes confirmed to have the norovirus were Swiss Olympians, Fabian Boesch and an unnamed freestyle skier.
“Everyone else is safe,” a spokesperson for the Swiss national team said. “We did everything we could. We took them away from the rest of the team and now they have to recover.”
There are now over 200 confirmed cases of norovirus at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Of those 200 cases, as of February 13, 45 remained in quarantine. An additional 1,200 members of the Olympic security detail were quarantined as well in hopes of continuing the virus.
The highly contagious virus infection, is the most common cause of gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation, and is known to cause dizziness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Symptoms typically begin around 12 to 48 hours after initial exposure.
“Generally, the illness only lasts 24 to 72 hours and it will go away on its own, so you should feel fine in a few days,” said Dr. Floyd L. Wormley Jr., a professor of immunology and microbiology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “It only takes 10 to 20 virus particles to infect someone, and when you’re contagious you’re shedding millions and billions of disease particles.
On a lighter note, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently approved five new sports for the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan: baseball/softball, karate, climbing, surfing, and skateboarding. There are currently 11 million people that self-report enjoying skateboarding on a regular basis, and a select few will have their chance to represent the sport on the world’s largest stage.
“The inclusion of the package of new sports will afford young athletes the chance of a lifetime to realize their dreams of competing in the Olympic Games — the world’s greatest sporting stage — and inspire them to achieve their best, both in sport and in life,” added Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori.