COVID outbreak hits Japanese team at women’s curling worlds

March 25, 2022 GMT
Japan skip Ikue Kitazawa throws a stone against Switzerland at the Women's World Curling Championships in Prince George, British Columbia, Friday, March 25, 2022. (James Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP)
Japan skip Ikue Kitazawa throws a stone against Switzerland at the Women's World Curling Championships in Prince George, British Columbia, Friday, March 25, 2022. (James Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP)
Japan skip Ikue Kitazawa throws a stone against Switzerland at the Women's World Curling Championships in Prince George, British Columbia, Friday, March 25, 2022. (James Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Japan skip Ikue Kitazawa throws a stone against Switzerland at the Women's World Curling Championships in Prince George, British Columbia, Friday, March 25, 2022. (James Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Japan skip Ikue Kitazawa throws a stone against Switzerland at the Women's World Curling Championships in Prince George, British Columbia, Friday, March 25, 2022. (James Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP)

A COVID-19 outbreak on the Japanese team at the women’s curling world championships forced them to compete one player down in one match and forfeit another on Friday.

The team skipped by Ikue Kitazawa had been in playoff contention heading into the final day of the round-robin before losing 11-3 in six ends to first-place Switzerland in the morning. Neither Seina Nakajima nor alternate Chiaki Matsumura competed in the match.

The team then decided to forfeit against South Korea on Friday afternoon, its final match of the preliminary round. The World Curling Federation said in a statement that the other players tested negative but “decided that for the health and safety of everyone involved in the championship, forfeiting their game and avoiding the possibility of further positive results impacting the competition was the best decision.”

Curling teams usually compete with four players and have an alternate standing by in case of injury. At the Canadian championships earlier this month, a team skipped by two-time Olympic medalist Brad Gushue competed with three players after a positive COVID test and won the event.

Scotland began play at the women’s worlds with three curlers, but withdrew after two matches following two more positive tests.

The women’s world’s returned to Prince George, British Columbia, after the 2020 event there was canceled because of the pandemic.