Erik Karlsson unlikely to play Olympics as things stand

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San Jose Sharks and Sweden defenseman Erik Karlsson, asked what he will do if “things stay as they are” concerning the coronavirus, said Wednesday that he would most likely not play at the Olympics.

“There’s just too many uncertainties crossing the waters and going into a different nation and different country where we can’t get a straight answer about anything,” Karlsson told reporters in audio provided by the Sharks Audio Network. “There’s going to be guys that are going to test positive, and there’s going to be people that are going to have to go through whatever it is that we’re going to have to go through if that happens, which we don’t really know what that is. So, for me, having a family, I can’t take that risk.”

Karlsson was asked about general nervousness about going to the Olympics given the pandemic.

“We’ve had some calls, and I think that most of the issues are public knowledge,” he said without detailing specific issues. “I think if that’s the way it’s going to be, I don’t see it being very feasible for guys to take that risk, but that’s my personal opinion. Everybody knows how much I love to play for the national team and how much I cherish the Olympic Games, but the way it is right now, it doesn’t seem like it’s very doable. I don’t understand why anyone would agree to take the risks of being in the position that we will be in once we board that plane and go to China.”

A reporter mentioned to Karlsson the reported timeline of up to five weeks for a possible quarantine in China for somebody who has a confirmed positive test at the Olympics. NBCSports.com confirmed that the NHLPA has been told that’s a possible quarantine length, governed by Chinese law.

The latest athlete playbook for the Beijing Olympics, published earlier this month, does not mention a specific quarantine period for a confirmed positive test but does say athletes will be discharged in accordance with guidelines in China. If an athlete has a confirmed positive test in China, the playbook states that they would be discharged, if at a hospital, meeting this criteria:

– your body temperature returns to normal for three consecutive days
– respiratory symptoms improve significantly
– lung imaging shows significant improvement
– you have two consecutive negative COVID-19 (PCR) test results with a sample interval of at least 24 hours; and
– you display no other COVID-19 symptoms

And if at an isolation facility:

– Once you have two consecutive negative COVID-19 (PCR) test results with at least 24 hours between the two samples and no other COVID-19 symptoms

Those who are asymptomatic with consistent positive tests will be reviewed regularly by a medical expert panel that includes IOC and international federation reps.

Karlsson won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2012 and 2015 and was the top defenseman in the 2014 Olympic tournament, where he led Sweden to silver, losing to Canada in the final.

Previously, Swedish goaltender Robin Lehner said he will not play the Olympics, citing mental health.

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