Van der Burgh, who won gold for South Africa in the 100 meter breaststroke in the 2012 London Olympics and silver in the 2016 Rio games, tweeted Sunday that he had contracted COVID-19 and was struggling, despite his fitness and age.
“I have been struggling with Covid-19 for 14 days today,” he wrote. “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).”
The 31-year-old athlete complained of “serious fatigue” and an unshakeable cough. “Any physical activity like walking leaves me exhausted for hours,” he wrote.
On a positive note, van der Burgh reported that his severe fever had eased.
Van der Burgh, who retired from competition in 2018, used his situation to push for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo to decide its status. Athletes who contract COVID-19 will suffer greatly in their conditioning leading up to the competition, he wrote.
Olympic organizers are facing growing pressure to delay the games, scheduled to begin in late July. The International Olympic Committee has said it will determine the Summer Games’ fate within a month.
“Please, look after yourself everyone! Health comes first - COVID-19 is no joke!” van der Burgh wrote.
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