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Speedskater Dawson stuck in US, still hopes to make Olympics

February 4, 2022 GMT

BEIJING (AP) — The clock is ticking for American speedskater Casey Dawson to get to his first Olympics.

He tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks ago. Recently, Dawson had been testing negative and he believed that by producing two consecutive negative tests he would be cleared to join his teammates in Beijing.

“Everything was good until I received news that they now require four negative tests to even consider sending me over,” Dawson wrote in an Instagram post.

He’s also had issues with testing centers in Utah that must be approved by the Chinese consulate.

“My expectation is that he’ll get here,” Matt Kooreman, long track program director for US Speedskating, said Friday.

Kooreman said they’re targeting an arrival date of Monday for Dawson.

“He’s such a level-headed guy,” Kooreman said. “I’m more worried about the people around him freaking out than I am him freaking out.”

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Dawson’s first individual event is the 5,000 meters on Sunday. He would be replaced by Emery Lehman, a two-time Olympian. Dawson also qualified for the 1,500 on Tuesday, and could be replaced by Ethan Cepuran.

US Speedskating is eager to get Dawson to Beijing in time to join in the team pursuit. The quarterfinals are Feb. 13, with semifinals and the final two days later. The U.S. men are strong medal contenders in the event.

Dawson, a 21-year-old skater from Park City, Utah, has been training at the Utah Olympic Oval to stay sharp while his COVID-19 situation plays out. He is set to receive his U.S. Olympic clothing and gear this weekend.

“Now let’s just pass this test,” Kooreman said, “and get a plane ticket.”

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