World
French athletes reportedly contracted COVID-19 during Military Games last October
Translated by Jacques Fourrier  ·  2020-05-06  ·   Source: Le Parisien

 

The 406-strong French delegation at the Seventh CISM Military World Games held in Wuhan from October 18 to 27, 2019, including 281 athletes ( LE PARISIEN)

Her words went relatively unnoticed, but could prove crucial evidence in the search for the origins of the COVID-19. On March 25, during an interview given to French local TV station Loire 7 about the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, Elodie Clouvel, an Olympic medalist in modern pentathlon, let slip a valuable piece of information. Her testimony could turn out to be just as disturbing as the retroactive analysis of tests kept at Bondy Hospital, which made it possible to identify a carrier of the virus as early as December 27 in France.

Clouvel was asked if she was anxious about considering a whole summer in Japan, "on a continent [Asia] where the disease had emerged." "I’m not, because I think that with Valentin [Belaud, her partner who is also a pentathlete] we already caught the coronavirus… I mean COVID-19,"she quipped.

"Nobody was talking about it then"

"We were in Wuhan for the World Military Games in late October. It turns out that after we all got sick, Valentin missed three days of training. I was sick too. […] I had symptoms that I had never experienced before. We didn’t worry that much because nobody was talking about it then," said the 31-year-old woman.

"Lots of athletes at the World Military Games got very sick. We talked to the military doctor recently who told us that he thought we might have caught it [COVID-19] because many people in the delegation got sick," she added.

To date, the first officially diagnosed case of COVID-19 in China dates back to November 17. The Military World Games--nearly 10,000 athletes representing 100 countries and regions--was held from October 18 to 27. These facts have already appeared in the chronology of events, when Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, suggested on Twitter on March 12 that the coronavirus could have been introduced by the American delegation at the World Military Games.

Puzzling testimonies

On May 5, French news channel BFMTV also reported an anonymous testimony from one of the 281 French athletes present in Wuhan, quoting him saying that he "fell ill as did several members of the French delegation" upon his return to France.

Clouvel, a military armed police officer, refused to answer further questions after her interview and since then, athletes have been ordered to stop talking to journalists on the subject. Several athletes have been instructed to refer journalists directly to the Communication Department of the Ministry of Defense. Furthermore, French athletes present in Wuhan received a call from the army a few weeks ago in order to reassure them. "We were told that there is no risk, that we left on October 28 and that the virus emerged on November 1," said one of them.

It can thus be argued that athletes from other delegations could have been also infected by the virus. When the Swedish hundred-strong delegation returned home, cases of high fever were recorded. "But none of the people tested were positive," said the Communication Department of the Swedish armed forces in mid-April.

This is an edited excerpt of a report in Le Parisien, originally titled Were French athletes infected in Wuhan last October?

Comments to liuyunyun@bjreview.com

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