BYU swimmer spent Olympics in 'COVID jail' regardless of by no means testing constructive for the coronavirus

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Josue Dominguez was unfavourable.

Again and many times and once more. Through 15 saliva assessments and almost 10 nose-violating PCR swabs, not as soon as did the BYU swimmer check constructive for COVID-19.

Yet, he couldn’t go to the eating corridor. He couldn’t prepare in a health club or a pool. He couldn’t even depart his room.

For 12 days, Dominguez, who has been vaccinated towards COVID since March, was underneath home arrest. Not as a result of he had the coronavirus, however as a result of somebody a number of seats away from him on his flight to Japan did.

Dominguez was thought of to be “in close contact” with a COVID case, which meant he and some different athletes seated round him, largely representing South and Central American international locations, needed to be positioned in quarantine. He thought it could be only for a day or two. But then it grew to become per week. Then nearly two.

Each of the each day spit assessments and frequent nostril swabs introduced Dominguez hope — and disappointment.

“Each time I feel like, ‘Oh, this is it!’” he stated not too long ago from the confines of his single room within the Olympic Village. “But right now, at this point, it’s like, if they let me out, mostly I’d just be excited for me to be able to walk around the village and visit all the cool places that are here. All my training has been lost already. So there isn’t anything else that I can do to get it back at this point.”

At that point, the Dominican Republic’s lone male swimmer had raced considered one of his two occasions, the 100-meter breaststroke. He positioned seventh in his warmth in 1 minute, 1.86 seconds, a couple of second off his private greatest and the thirty ninth greatest time general.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU swimmer Josue Dominguez would be the solely male swimming for the Dominican Republic on the Olympics in Tokyo. Dominguez was photographed at BYU in Provo on Thursday, July 8, 2021.

Considering he’d solely been allowed in a pool twice since he arrived in Tokyo per week earlier, he felt that wasn’t too disappointing.

“I didn’t worry at all about my event, I was just having fun,” stated Dominguez, who lives in Santiago when not at BYU. “I was listening to music, just like getting myself in a more happy mood to go swim. I was kind of trying to be more happy than being focused because at that point I was like, ‘A best time is not going to happen.’”

His second and last race, a 200 breast qualifier, passed off Tuesday. Out of the 40 complete entrants, solely the 5 swimmers he beat whereas taking third (2:17.34) in his warmth had slower occasions.

Even earlier than he received caught in quarantine limbo, he didn’t anticipate to finish up on the medal stand. Though he had the very best occasions and efficiency of any male swimmer from the Dominican Republic this yr, which earned him the chance to compete within the Olympics, his private bests didn’t meet the “A” normal wanted for computerized qualification to the Games. His private document within the 200 backstroke — which he set again in 2014 when he was 18 — was nonetheless six seconds off the Olympic-record and gold-medal successful time swam by Australia’s Izaac Stubblety-Cook in Tokyo on Wednesday night time.

He didn’t come to Tokyo anticipating to medal.

By the top, he simply needed out of his room.


Dominguez was confused.

Dominguez anticipated to must abide by strict guidelines and harsh penalties as an Olympian. Considering the Tokyo Games are the primary Olympics ever held in a pandemic. Considering they’d turn out to be vastly unpopular with the Japanese individuals who have issues about bringing hundreds of foreigners to their shores as virus instances surge within the nation. Considering a cloud of uncertainty over whether or not the occasion could be canceled loomed over the Games even after the torch had been lit.

(Felipe Dana | AP) Jacob Gibb, proper, of the United States, takes a shot as Enrico Rossi, of Italy, defends throughout a males’s seaside volleyball match on the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo.

But he discovered himself in a stranger scenario than he’d ever imagined.

And he’s not the one in any other case wholesome Olympic athlete, coach or employees sentenced to “COVID jail” — the derisive title for quarantine — for shut contact. Bountiful native Jake Gibb was moved into isolation 36 hours after his new seaside volleyball associate arrived as a result of Gibb had what was thought of shut contact along with his former associate, Taylor Crabb, the primary American athlete to check constructive for COVID whereas in Tokyo. Team USA women’s volleyball’s offensive coordinator, Erin Virtue, in the meantime, watched her staff’s first match from her laptop computer in her resort room as a result of she additionally was flagged for having shut contact throughout her flight to the Games.

Close contact on an airplane, in keeping with Japanese laws, is anybody sitting inside two rows — entrance, again or throughout the airplane — of the contaminated passenger.

Still, when the pinnacle coach on the PanAm Sport coaching camp in Tachikawa, Japan — the place Dominguez was getting acclimated for the Games — advised him he had been in shut contact with a COVID case whereas on the airplane, Dominguez didn’t perceive. He had arrived Tuesday. By the time he was given the dangerous information on Saturday, he’d spent nearly the complete week swimming, dwelling and hanging out with different members of the camp. He’d additionally been examined each day.

Dominguez questioned the timing of the quarantine and the reasoning behind it. But in a sample that will repeat itself usually as he was shuffled by various levels of limbo, he obtained no concrete rationalization.

“That has been one of the problems I’ve had here,” he stated. “I have so many questions and most of the time, they don’t give me — it’s not exactly the answer that I’m looking for, but at least I need some reason behind the answers. And they don’t give me any of that.”

He and some different swimmers have been remoted in a resort and examined. Two days later, on Monday, they have been allowed to make use of the pool whereas cordoned off from the opposite swimmers. That night time, as scheduled, the group broke camp and moved to Tokyo. Instead of the Olympic Village, the swimmers in isolation once more have been despatched to a resort. They anticipated it could be for only one extra day. That would mark per week since they have been uncovered, which might imply they have been extremely unlikely to nonetheless be spreaders of the virus.

“Then they told us that we were not going to be allowed to swim” in our races, Dominguez stated. “And that’s when we started to freak out.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU swimmer Josue Dominguez would be the solely male swimming for the Dominican Republic on the Olympics in Tokyo. Dominguez was photographed at BYU in Provo on Thursday, July 8, 2021.

Dominguez stated the Dominican Republic has advocates for its athletes on the Olympics, and its docs have been capable of organize for him to have the ability to compete. They additionally secured a room for him within the Village, which was supposed to present him simpler entry to a pool.

It didn’t.

“They told us we were not allowed to go to the pool,” he stated. “We were not allowed to get out of our rooms at all.”

He stuffed his days taking part in Homescapes and Call of Duty Mobile on his telephone, watching exhibits and flicks on Netflix, journaling about his newest restrictions and speaking to his household. Sometimes he’d exit to benefit from the view from his balcony, however Tokyo’s scorching and humid summer season climate would shortly chase him again in.

For meals, he needed to textual content a coach to carry him one thing from the Athletes Village eating corridor, notorious for its hundreds of dishes from everywhere in the world.

Not till race day did he lastly come down from the tower.

Dominguez and a competitor from Honduras couldn’t take the athletes’ bus and as an alternative have been required to take a separate shuttle. They took a PCR check earlier than leaving the village and have been required to obtain a unfavourable end result earlier than they may enter the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.

Once inside, although, all restrictions have been off. They might go the place they needed and work together with whomever they happy. Their saga gave the impression to be over.

Of course, it wasn’t that simple. To their shock, they have been put again in isolation, however not till after they took their third PCR check in a span of 24 hours. Then, they have been advised they’d have to remain there till they raced once more.


Josue Dominguez is making an attempt to be constructive.

This isn’t the Olympic expertise he needed, however it’s the one he received.

“I’m not going to lie: Yeah, I would love to have been able to swim with my best shape and my best conditions,” he stated. “But if I live under that thought, it’s going to make everything else worse. So, I try just to push it away and not think about that so much.”

Dominguez stated he’s truly making use of one thing he realized at BYU — in a chemistry class, no much less — to maintain his trials in perspective.

The method he tells it, the BYU class had a lab by which college students have been anticipated to conduct their experiments. The lab was solely open at sure occasions, so even when he realized he’d miscalculated, he couldn’t return and repair his errors. He simply needed to wait till the lab opened up once more and see what he’d gotten.

It, very similar to the entirety of the pandemic itself, was a lesson in letting go of issues past his management.

“I was talking to my coaches,” he stated, “and everything that has happened in the last year and a half kind of prepared me emotionally, mentally and physically for this that is happening now.”

So, fairly than dwell on the frustrations, Dominguez is making an attempt to think about himself as fortunate that he’ll have this story to inform his buddies and, some day, his kids and grandchildren. He reminds himself that what issues is that he can name himself an Olympian. And, he’s began plotting his path to the subsequent Summer Games, in Paris in 2024, the place possibly he’ll have a extra fulfilling expertise.

That’s lots simpler to think about now. After his last race, he did, certainly, get sprung from isolation. Before his flight residence Sunday, he was busy watching races on the aquatics middle, visiting retailers within the village, taking part in video games with buddies and sampling a bit of the whole lot on the eating corridor in addition to the Japanese restaurant on web site.

“It feels like I’m free right now,” he stated.

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