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U.S. Olympic figure skater Vincent Zhou withdraws from individual events after testing positive for COVID-19

Emotional day of competition at Winter Olympics
Emotional day of competition at Winter Olympics 01:33

Team USA figure skater Vincent Zhou said on Monday he has to withdraw from his upcoming individual Olympic events after he tested positive for COVID-19. Zhou tested positive on Sunday, just days after the start of the Beijing Olympics. 

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement the 21-year-old tested positive as part of regular screening at the Olympics.

Vincent Zhou - Figure Skating - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics
Vincent Zhou of Team USA skates during the Team Event Men's Single Skating Free Skating during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on February 6, 2022 in Beijing, China. Getty Images

CBS News has reached out to U.S. Figure Skating for additional comment. 

Shortly after the news of his positive test was released, Zhou released his own video statement on Instagram to confirm his positive test, and announce that his 2022 Winter Olympic events have come to an end. 

"Unfortunately, I will have to withdraw from the individual event, starting tomorrow," he said. "...I've already lost count at the number of times I've cried today, but I'm happy to say that at least one of those times was happy tears, and that was when I found that I become an Olympic silver medalist. I think that wraps things nicely on a positive note." 

Zhou said that he has been doing "everything in my power" to avoid COVID throughout the pandemic. 

"I've taken all the precautions I can. I've isolated myself so much that the loneliness I've felt in the last month or two has been crushing at times," he said. "The enormity of the situation, the pain of it all is pretty insane. But I do recognize that this absolutely does not define me as an athlete, as a person. ...While it was always my dream to medal on an Olympic stage, which I did accomplish before this happened, the overarching dream was just to skate. If I didn't love this I wouldn't still be doing it."

Zhou tested positive the same day that he competed in the men's team free skate, in which he placed third, helping his team secure second place overall on the second day of competition.

In his video statement, Zhou gave an emotional message to both his younger and older self.  

"When you were young sitting on the couch, watching those great skaters on TV, studying their jumps every night at the dinner table and waking up at 4 a.m. or earlier to go into the rink and skate and do double jumps, you had no idea what you were getting into. But you had a dream and you followed it," he said. "...Today, you are that person, Vincent. You made it happen. So be proud of that. Take pride in yourself, recognize yourself. Don't be afraid to take a step back and look at things from the bigger picture."

While he will no longer compete in the individual figure skating events at the Olympics, Zhou said he is honored to have accomplished what he did, and that he hopes to represent Team USA at the world championships. 

"I will be back stronger then. I will be back better then," he said. "This is not the end. This is a setup for a bigger comeback." 

Zhou's teammate, Karen Chen, told Reuters that his positive test is "very unfortunate news." 

"I train with him all the time, and I know he deserves to be here, to be in this moment with all of us," Chen said. 

Zhou's positive tests occurred amid strict Olympic COVID-19 precautions. Prior to even arriving in Beijing last week, athletes had to undergo a series of tests and two weeks of health monitoring. Once they arrived, they had to undergo another COVID test. 

This is the California native's second Olympic appearance. During his first run in PyeongChang in 2018, the then-17-year-old was the youngest member of Team USA and finished The Games in sixth place, according to U.S. Figure Skating. 

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