By STEPHEN WHYNO, AP Sports Writer
BEIJING (AP) — Denmark’s men’s hockey team held its first pre-Olympic practice Wednesday without six players after a spate of positive COVID-19 test results upon arriving in China.
Coach Heinz Ehlers said four main roster and two taxi squad players tested positive for the coronavirus. He expressed optimism about getting four of the players out of isolation late Wednesday or early Thursday.
“Fortunately, it looks like four of them were false positive, we are hoping,” longtime NHL center Frans Nielsen said. ”I wouldn’t called it ‘scared,’ but you’re always worried about, ‘Is there going to be more?’”
Ehlers could not remember the names of all six players who tested positive but said former NHL forward Mikkel Boedker and veteran defenseman Markus Lauridsen were among them. He said everyone tested negative twice within the previous 48 hours before leaving Denmark for Beijing.
“Of course it’s frustrating about the practice because we were supposed to do a little bit of power play today and three or four of those players, they were out,” Ehlers said. “It’s just (we have) to accept the way it is right now.”
The tournament begins in a week. Denmark plays its first game Feb. 9 against the Czech Republic.
Denmark qualified for men’s and women’s hockey at the Olympics for the first time.
“I think with every team right now, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope that we’re going to get through this tournament without too many positive cases,” Nielsen said.
Beijing organizers on Wednesday reported 32 new cases — 15 in tests of people arriving at the airport and 17 within the Olympic bubbles. Athletes and team officials accounted for nine of the latest cases and 23 were “stakeholders,” a category that includes workers and media.
Eleven people have been treated at the hospital for a symptom among the 232 positive tests registered since Jan. 23, though “none of those are seriously ill in any way,” Olympic medical advisor Brian McCloskey said.
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