Following a positive coronavirus test in Italy, reigning Olympic 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk tested negative for the virus more recently. The South African is the current 400m world record-holder with a time of 43.03 to his name, and he was the 2017 world champion at the distance. According to a report from the Olympic Channel, van Niekerk has been in quarantine since arriving in Italy on July 19. He was set to compete at a meet in Trieste on August 1, but he wasn’t allowed to race after news of his positive test broke. His manager, Peet van Zyl, has said van Niekerk registered a false positive and that in reality he is negative for COVID-19.
400m Olympic champ Wayde van Niekerk has tested positive for coronavirus in Italy.
— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) August 1, 2020
Van Niekerk’s followup test came back negative ahead of the meet in Trieste, but due to event protocol, he was not permitted to race, as reported by Inside the Games. He and his team recently travelled to Genoma, Italy, where they will train and compete for the next few months. Van Zyl spoke to Italian media to explain the confusion surrounding his athlete’s tests.
During their quarantine after arriving in Italy, he said van Niekerk had been tested five times. The first three came back negative, the fourth showed positive results and the fifth was negative again. Still, van Zyl said the team would take precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.
“We are all in isolation, not mixing with other people and staying on a separate floor,” said van Zyl. “We will follow the protocol here, and then decide when Wayde will next race.”
Back to racing
For van Niekerk, missing the meet in Trieste was an unfortunate blow to what has already been a lacklustre comeback season. In 2017, following his victory in the 400m at the world championships, he tore his ACL at a charity rugby match in South Africa. He finally got back to racing in 2020, but the season was paused due to the global pandemic. He competed in two meets in South Africa earlier in the year, winning 100m, 200m and 400m races. Van Niekerk was set to race the 400m and 100m in Trieste, but he will have to wait a little while longer to get his 2020 season back in action.