Members of Congress are calling on the Biden administration to launch an investigation into whether an international competition in Wuhan, China, involving thousands of athletes from around the world in October 2019 was the world’s first coronavirus “superspreader” event, according to a report on Wednesday.
More than 9,000 athletes, including a delegation of 280 athletes and staff from the US, attended the two-week-long Wuhan Military World Games, and many of them said they later fell ill with COVID-like symptoms, a Washington Post columnist reported in an op-ed.
Many of the athletes said Wuhan looked like a “ghost town” in October‚ two months before China reported the first case of coronavirus there.
As the coronavirus spread around the world in early 2020, athletes from France, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg claimed they had contracted the deadly disease at the Wuhan games, because of their symptoms and how easily their sickness spread to their loved ones.
In Washington, the report said military brass either dismissed the possibility or were unaware of it, and no antibody testing was ever conducted on the athletes who attended the games.
Many athletes said they fell ill with COVID-like symptoms after the event.
“Given unanswered questions surrounding the origins of the pandemic, information involving the health of service members who participated in the 2019 games could provide key evidence in understanding when COVID-19 first emerged,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the report said.
“While anecdotal, these reports raise important questions about the timeline of the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.”
An investigation could turn up evidence that the coronavirus was circulating in Wuhan months before the Chinese Communist government acknowledged its existence.
The theory that the disease began in the Wuhan Institute of Virology gained credibility after a report said workers at the lab were hospitalized in November 2019 with coronavirus-like symptoms.
Gallagher is seeking information on whether the US athletes were tested for antibodies, or if there were outbreaks at the bases when they returned, and if the Pentagon shared information with other militaries that took part in the games.