Figure Skater Vincent Zhou Withdraws From Olympics in Emotional Video

American figure skater Vincent Zhou has withdrawn from the men's figure skating competition at the 2022 Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19. The second-ranked American man behind Nathan Chen, Zhou had hoped to compete for a podium spot just days after earning his first Olympic medal, a silver, in the team event. The positive test came after Zhou had already completed his free skate in the team event.

Zhou announced his official withdrawal in an emotional video on Instagram, saying that he has done everything in his power "to stay free of COVID since the start of the pandemic . . . I have isolated myself so much that the loneliness I felt in the last month or two has been crushing at times." Zhou added that "the enormity of the situation, the pain of it all, is pretty insane."

Despite the shock and crushing disappointment, Zhou also tried to take a broader perspective. "I do recognize that this absolutely does not define me as an athlete, as a person," he said. At one point, Zhou broke down in tears as he described how proud and amazed he would have been as a young skater, to know that he lived out his dreams of becoming an Olympic medalist. "You didn't know what you were getting into, but you had a dream and you followed it."

Zhou's video garnered support from other figure-skating greats as well. "Heartbroken for you," said 1992 Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi, "but you are a warrior and champion AND an Olympic silver medalist. Get healthy and I know from your message that you will be back stronger than ever."

"[Y]ou are so loved & we all miss you," said Karen Chen, Zhou's teammate who also medaled in the Olympic team event. "[P]lease stay strong." Two-time Olympian and NBC analyst Johnny Weir added, "You are so admired & appreciated Vincent. Hold your head high."

Though Zhou said he'd lost count of the number of times he'd cried over the news, he added that "at least one of those times was happy tears. That was when I found that I became an Olympic silver medalist [in the team event]." While he can't compete alongside US teammates Nathan Chen and Jason Brown in the men's Olympic competition, Zhou said he hopes to participate in the World Championships in March.

"This is not the end," he finished. "This a setup for a bigger comeback."

Getty | Annice Lyn