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Finland hockey coach slams 'human rights violation' of China quarantine rules

Finland's captain has been in quarantine since he arrived in China.

Jukka Jalonen is not happy about the quarantine rules in China. Image: Mikhail Japaridze/TASS/All Over Press

China is violating the human rights of a Finnish ice hockey player by keeping him in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus, according to the team's coach Jukka Jalonen.

Marko Anttila has been asymptomatic since he tested positive on 18 January, and subsequently recorded a test result that allowed him to travel to China for the Beijing Olympics. In China, however, he tested positive again and was sent to a quarantine hotel, where he has remained.

"This violates human rights," said Lions' coach Jukka Jalonen at a press conference on Sunday. "An elite athlete who is completely healthy cannot compete in the Olympics. In Finland there are apparently more lottery millionaires than Olympic athletes, so it's not every boy or girl that gets to go to the dance."

Finland start their Olympic campaign on 10 February against Slovakia. Jalonen said Anttila is doing as well as can be expected in the circumstances.

"I spoke to him yesterday," said Jalonen. "Marko is a strong guy, mentally. He is not depressed, but he's pretty down. A couple of times a day he gets cold and tasteless spaghetti bolognese."

To get out of quarantine, Anttila has to provide samples meeting the Chinese authorities' stipulations three days in a row.

If Anttila records a CT value above 35 three days in a row, he will be allowed to leave quarantine. The CT value indicates how much virus a person is carrying, and if the value is 35 or above the risk of onward infection is regarded as very low.

The number is based on the number of 'cycles of amplification' a PCR test needs to identify a coronavirus infection. The more cycles required, the less Covid is present.

Team doctor Maarit Valtonen said that Anttila's results are a borderline case, and she has discussed with her counterparts from other countries how the situation could be resolved to get Anttila and others in his situation out of isolation.

"The so-called long tail can show in tests for a long time [after infection] and with big CT values some lab could declare it positive or completely negative," said Valtonen on 24 January.

Anttila plays for Helsinki club Jokerit, which is part-owned by Norilsk Nickel, in the Kontinental Hockey League, a Russian-owned organisation that includes teams from Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Finland and Latvia.