Olympian Cameron van der Burgh Says COVID-19 Is 'By Far the Worst Virus'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2020

South Africa's gold medalist Cameron Van der Burgh poses on the podium after the men's 100m breaststroke swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 29, 2012 in London.       AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON        (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages)

South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, who won a gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2012 Summer Olympics, relayed his experience with the coronavirus after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Van der Burgh wrote on Twitter it's "by far the worst virus I have ever endured," and that he continues to experience "serious fatigue and a residual cough that I can't shake."

Cameron van der Burgh @Cameronvdburgh

2/ I have been struggling with Covid-19 for 14 days today. By far the worst virus I have ever endured despite being a healthy individual with strong lungs(no smoking/sport), living a healthy lifestyle and being young (least at risk demographic)

Cameron van der Burgh @Cameronvdburgh

4/ The loss in body conditioning has been immense and can only feel for the athletes that contract Covid-19 as they will suffer a great loss of current conditioning through the last training cycle. Infection closer to competition being the worst.

Cameron van der Burgh @Cameronvdburgh

6/ Please, look after yourself everyone! Health comes first - COVID-19 is no joke!

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo remain on track for their July 24 start, but officials are facing significant pressure to reschedule amid the ongoing pandemic.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach wrote an open letter Sunday that said the governing body's members will make a final determination within four weeks:

"I know that this unprecedented situation leaves many of your questions open. I also know that this rational approach may not be in line with the emotions many of you have to go through. Therefore, as we try to address your situation and the questions you may have about your training, your qualification systems and your participation in the Games, we encourage you to keep an eye out for updates on Athlete365, but also to stay in close contact with your NOCs and National Federations."

British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, a bronze medalist in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, took issue with the continued delay:

Dina Asher-Smith @dinaashersmith

So wait... does this mean that athletes face up to another FOUR weeks of finding ways to fit in training - whilst potentially putting ourselves, coaches, support staff and loved ones at risk just to find out they were going to be postponed anyway!!! https://t.co/OTTG6MRt5O

The CBC's Stephanie Jenzer obtained a letter from World Athletics President Sebastian Coe to Bach in which Coe lobbied for delaying this year's Olympic Games:

Stephanie Jenzer @StephJenzer

No ambiguity here. @CBCNews has obtained a letter written by Seb Coe, the head of track and field's world governing body to Thomas Bach, the IOC boss. A unanimous "request that the Games be moved". @CBCOlympics https://t.co/gtxyDBX74B

According to CNN, more than 294,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide.

Those lobbying for postponement point to the possible health risks of staging such a large event that draws people from all over the globe. The coronavirus has also forced local government officials to shutter gyms and facilities that Olympic hopefuls would otherwise use to train.

USA Swimming and USA Track & Field issued statements calling for the IOC to move the Olympics, citing the physical and mental health of the athletes who are attempting to prepare:

USA Swimming @USASwimming

USA Swimming respectfully requests that the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee advocate for the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. https://t.co/q5bhUwi05q

USATF @usatf


The IOC said Sunday it will begin discussions with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and Japanese officials about what steps were necessary as a result of COVID-19, with postponement among the topics to be examined.