BEIJING — The coach of the Finland men’s ice hockey team accused China of not respecting a player’s human rights on Sunday as complaints about COVID-19 isolation protocols piled up at the Winter Games.
Finnish head coach Jukka Jalonen said Marko Anttila, a ninth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2004 NHL draft, was “not getting good food” and was under tremendous mental stress.
“We know that he’s fully healthy and ready to go and that’s why we think that China, for some reason, they won’t respect his human rights and that’s not a great situation,” head coach Jalonen said on a Zoom call with media.
Anttila was no longer infectious but continued to be kept in COVID-19 isolation after testing positive 18 days ago, according to the team doctor.
More than 350 Games participants, including dozens of athletes, have tested positive on arrival in the Chinese capital since Jan. 23. They can leave special quarantine hotels only once they are free of symptoms and test negative in two PCR tests 24 hours apart.
Several Games participants have complained about the isolation conditions, as well as the confusing procedures around being allowed to leave. Organizers said on Sunday that they were trying to address complaints.
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“We are in a process of addressing these problems,” said Zhao Weidong, Beijing Games spokesperson, adding that they would now allow an athlete to order in food from the village.
The International Ice Hockey Federation would meet the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Sunday to discuss Anttila and other athlete cases, Jalonen said. Finland opens group play on Thursday when it faces off against Slovakia.
“Hopefully, something positive we will find out,” the coach said.