A Polish luge athlete who was injured during a Winter Olympics training event near Beijing was flown out of China on a cargo plane this week after organizers’ coronavirus restrictions prevented him from taking a commercial flight, according to the head of Poland’s luge association.
The incident speaks to the kinds of complications that could arise at next year’s Winter Games, which are scheduled to begin on Feb. 4 in accordance with strict health protocols. For training and other events in the run-up to the Games, athletes and team officials are not allowed to move about freely until they have spent 21 days inside a bubblelike training and competition zone.
The luger, Mateusz Sochowicz, 25, hit a barrier and fractured his leg on Nov. 8 while training on the track that will be used during the Winter Games. He was hospitalized near Beijing, and the International Luge Federation said that it and the local track operator were introducing additional safety measures for the Games after the accident.
But when organizers tried to arrange for Mr. Sochowicz to travel back to Poland on a commercial flight, they were told that Covid regulations prevented him from doing so for another two weeks, according to Janusz Tatera, the head of Poland’s luge federation.
Instead, Mr. Sochowicz traveled on an Air China cargo plane from Beijing to Milan on Monday, before taking another flight to Warsaw, Mr. Tatera said in a telephone interview.
The cargo plane’s interior was just like that of a passenger jet, Mr. Tatera said, adding that Mr. Sochowicz had described his journey from Beijing as “very comfortable.”
Mr. Sochowicz remains optimistic, Mr. Tatera said, that he will compete in Beijing 2022 after recovering from the injury.