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US figure skater Vincent Zhou says he was barred from joining Closing Ceremony

The U.S. figure skater previously had to withdraw from his individual event after testing positive for COVID. He returned to the ice just hours before the ceremony.

BEIJING, China — U.S. figure skater Vincent Zhou said he was blocked from participating in the Closing Ceremony at the Beijing Winter Olympics after officials told him he was a COVID "close contact risk," the 21-year-old announced on Instagram..

Zhou said he was told this news "before boarding the bus to the stadium" and they "would not allow me to proceed further." 

While the virus has impacted every athlete's experience at this year's Winter Olympics, it has perhaps taken an unparalleled toll on Zhou, who had to withdraw from his individual event after testing positive for COVID. Zhou had just helped the U.S. win team silver on Feb. 7 when he got a phone call that he had tested positive. He and the team will be returning home without their earned silver medal as the IOC continues to investigate the Russian Olympic Committee's Kamila Valieva doping scandal

On his Instagram Story, Zhou said that despite having participated in the figure skating gala Sunday just hours before the ceremony -- and having tested negative 14 times following his initial diagnosis -- officials would "not allow [him] to proceed further." 

"I would be the least at risk of transmitting to others," Zhou wrote.

It's not yet known whether anyone else on Team USA was told they couldn't attend the Closing Ceremony. 

Despite the frustrating news, Zhou expressed that he was "endless grateful" for the opportunity to represent Team USA at the Winter Olympics. 

"I wish nothing but the best to everyone else marching tonight, especially my teammates," Zhou wrote. "It makes me so happy and proud to know they are out there embodying everything Team USA represents and having the time of their lives." 

Credit: AP
Vincent Zhou, of the United States, competes in the men's team free skate program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Team USA failed to make the top three total medal count at this year's Olympics, finishing fourth overall with 8 gold medals and 25 medals total. 

Host-country China finished in third with 9 gold medals and winning 15 medals total. 

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