Norwegian skier Aksel Lund Svindal is pulling out of the Olympics with allergies, he announced early Monday.
Svindal was favoured to win gold in the downhill and the super-G, but failed to reach the podium in both of those events. He’ll leave Sochi without competing in Wednesday’s giant slalom.
Svindal told The Associated Press that “concrete in the air” made him sick:
“There’s a lot of athletes that have some kind of allergy against something here. I think it’s something from the concrete that’s in the air, like some fine dust. When I got here, I felt it, too. The doctors knew exactly what it was, because they gave me allergy medicine right away. It helps, but it’s kind of draining.”
It’s unclear if that’s an official medical diagnosis or if it’s just Svindal’s theory about what’s making him sick.
Construction work in Sochi, particularly in the mountain cluster where the alpine skiers are staying, went up to the very last minute. The big showpiece venues of the Olympics were fully completed, but hotels, sidewalks, and other pieces of infrastructure remain unfinished.
While there have been some reports of illness among athletes (Lolo Jones had to be quarantined at one point), this is the only instance of dust-induced allergies we’ve come across.
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