Winter Olympics hit by norovirus days out from opening ceremony

Russia is not the only team banned from the Winter Olympics. 

Dozens of security guards at a camp near PyeongChang have been hospitalised with norovirus, prompting Olympic officials to quarantine the entire camp of 1200 workers.

The highly contagious infection is often seen in confined spaces such as cruise ships or hospitals.

It's a nightmare scenario for the event, and organisers have been quick to move, with 900 soldiers brought in to cover security. 

Sports Director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Christophe Dubi, says if any more cases are reported, all areas will immediately be disinfected.

Officials are examining food and water sources at a mountainside facility in Pyeongchang where the guards had been staying, and also inspecting 18 other facilities that rely on groundwater.

It's the same venue where Kiwi skeleton athlete Rhys Thornbury is training and competing. While there have been no reported health issues among the New Zealand delegation, he's still keeping the possibility of norovirus in mind.  

"It is concerning, especially with it maybe being at the sliding centre," he told Newshub. 

"But if I have to use the washrooms hopefully it won't be a problem." 

The issue causing most discomfort for Olympic officials shows no sign of passing, with 32 Russian athletes filing yet more appeals with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in an effort to compete at Pyeongchang.

They failed to pass IOC vetting and were not invited, but if the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturns that decision it threatens to overshadow the games themselves.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said they weren't worried.

"We are not fearful, no, in any way. We expect the decision tomorrow, we wait for the decision tomorrow, we are very confident with the stance that we have taken."

The IOC expects 168 Russian athletes who have been deemed "clean" to participate in the games under the banner of "Olympic Athletes from Russia," without any national flags, uniforms or national logos.

Seoul's unification ministry has announced that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, will attend Saturday's opening ceremony.



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