Coronavirus may have been spreading since Wuhan Military Games last October

Suspected cases among international athletes months before China's first report to WHO

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Elodie Clouvel (Facebook, Elodie Clouvel photo) 

Elodie Clouvel (Facebook, Elodie Clouvel photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The world is beginning to reexamine when COVID-19 first broke out after a French athlete broke the news that she suspects she contracted it while participating in an athletic event in Wuhan, China in Oct. 2019 — two months earlier than China first acknowledged confirmed cases to the WHO, CNA reported on Monday (May 11).

According to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA), French pentathlon world champion Elodie Clouvel said that when she and her boyfriend Valentin Belaud took part in the 2019 Military World Games in Wuhan in last October, many French athletes, including herself, fell ill. At the time they all assumed it to be the flu, but she said that some of them were quite sick.

She went on to say that she had recently visited a military doctor who told her she may have had coronavirus, as many on the French team had been ill at the same time, according to CNA.

The RFA report pointed out that former Italian fencing Olympian Matteo Tagliariol also said that when he participated in the Military World Games, he and five roommates all got sick with symptoms often seen in COVID-19 patients and experienced a long recovery time afterward. He said his fever and difficulty breathing continued even a week after returning home.

Antibiotics did not work, and it took three weeks for him to recover. His son and partner also fell ill; then, a couple of months later, the coronavirus outbreak made the news.

Several Swedish athletes were also reportedly unwell, including swimmer Raphael Stacchiotti. These suspected cases support the view of some Swedish epidemiologists that the virus may have been spreading in Sweden as early as November last year.

Nearly 10,000 athletes from 100 countries participated in the Wuhan sporting event. The international medical journal “Infection, Genetics and Evolution” on May 5 published a British study on its website indicating that COVID-19 may have already been spreading rampantly between Oct. 6 and Dec. 11, according to CNA.