Grisly Luge Crash at Olympic Track Sparks Criticism and Changes
(Bloomberg) -- The organizers of the Beijing Winter Olympics said training protocols have been changed following a luge accident on Nov. 8 that badly injured one of Poland’s top hopes for the event.
Mateusz Sochowicz was traveling 50 to 60 kilometers (31 to 37 miles) per hour during a test run on the Olympic track in Yanqing, China, when he hit a barrier on the track, sustaining several fractures, cuts and bruises. The 25-year-old luger was taken to a local hospital for surgery.
The track should have been cleared of all barriers before any test run, as required by standard safety measures, and the Polish national team coach lashed out at the Beijing organizers after the accident.
“It’s more important that someone doesn’t get Covid than the safety of participants,” head coach Marek Skowronski told Polish news portal Onet.pl. “What they did is scandalous.”
After the Nov. 8 accident, the International Luge Association and the local operators inspected the track and improved the training protocols, according to a statement on the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee website. Luge teams from several delegations resumed training later that day.
The Winter Olympics has been under scrutiny primarily for its virus-control measures. In keeping with China’s strict Covid-zero policies, athletes and delegations will be required to be vaccinated and kept in tight “bubbles” to minimize their contact with others. Meanwhile, China is battling a widespread outbreak, with nearly two dozen Chinese provinces, including Beijing, undergoing massive tracing and testing, lockdowns and transportation disruptions to keep the virus from spreading further.
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