A group of French athletes who competed in Wuhan back in October fear they may have brought the coronavirus back home — meaning that the deadly bug may have been around months earlier than first reported.
The French delegation took part in the seventh edition of the World Military Games in Wuhan from October 18 to 27 last year, just 20 days before the first confirmed case of coronavirus in China, The Sun reported.
A total of 402 French athletes were present, along with 10,000 others from across the globe, according to the report.
A number of the athletes returned home with usual symptoms, including fevers and body aches — one of them saying he originally thought he’d simply contracted a cold — and none of them were tested, according to French news channel BFMTV.
The French Army, responsible for organizing the athletes at the games, confirmed they had not wanted to test any athletes either, according to the report.
Elodie Clouvel, 31, a world champion modern pentathlete, said on local TV station Television Loire 7 in late March that she wasn’t concerned about potentially having to spend the summer in Japan for the Olympics — because she believes that she and her partner Valentin Belaud were already infected.
The interview came shortly before the games were officially rescheduled to July 2021.
“We were in Wuhan for the World Military Games at the end of October,” Clouvel said. “And afterwards, we all fell ill. Valentin missed three days of training.”
Flag bearers walk into the stadium during the closing ceremony of the 7th CISM Military World Games in WuhanGetty Images
“Me, I was sick too,” she continued. “I had things I had never had before. We weren’t particularly worried because no one was talking about it [back then].”
She said a military doctor told the group, “I think you had it because a lot of people from this delegation were ill.”
Once news started circulating that Wuhan was the epicenter of the deadly bug, the athletes began to question on a WhatsApp group whether they contracted the illness as well, according to The Sun.
Closer attention is being paid to their concerns since it emerged that Frenchman Amirouche Hammar had the coronavirus back in late December, according to the report.
The fishmonger had not traveled to Wuhan, like the two people who were assumed to be the first confirmed cases in France on Jan. 24.
By Thursday, 174,224 coronavirus cases and 25,812 deaths had been reported in France, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.