Virus outbreak spreading in Norway's cross-country ski team

OSLO, Norway -- A coronavirus outbreak is spreading inside the powerful Norwegian cross-country skiing team, with double Olympic champion Simen Hegstad Kruger becoming the third skier in two days to test positive ahead of the Beijing Games.

Norway's team doctor, Øystein Andersen, told a news conference Thursday that Hegstad Kruger was self isolating and was not showing any symptoms. His positive test comes after two-time overall World Cup winner Heidi Weng was among two members of Norway's women's team to test positive on Wednesday. It means two big medal contenders for Norway's perennially dominant cross-country team are now major doubts for Beijing.

"It's an extreme situation," Andersen said from the team's training camp in the Italian Alpine resort of Seiser Alm. "We have to limit the damage as best we can."

Hegstad Kruger won gold in the 30-kilometer skiathlon race and silver in the 15K event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, where he also helped Norway win the men's relay.

The entire men's team has been in isolation in Seiser Alm after head coach Arild Monsen tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to Norway on Monday. The team is planning to fly back to Norway on Sunday and then leave for Beijing on Monday, and it was still unclear whether Hegstad Kruger and Weng will be able to join them later.

People who have recently been infected with the virus are required to submit five negative tests to enter China for the Olympics, which start on Feb. 4.