At Pyeongchang's Winter Olympics, the Toughest Sport Is Avoiding Norovirus

The runs might ruin a good ski run.

In between ski runs, snowboarding runs, and speed skating runs at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, athletes will be doing their best to avoid getting the runs. Norovirus began sweeping through Olympic athletes and staff, even before the opening ceremony on Friday. Officials have reacted quickly by distributing hand sanitizer, telling athletes and staff to wash their hands frequently, and asking everyone to practice proper coughing etiquette — into your arm, not into your hand. But it’s too early to tell the effect the illness will have on the games.

As of Thursday, there were 128 confirmed cases of norovirus, according to a report from The New York Times. This illness, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and fever, spreads very easily from person to person and can even be picked up by contacting surfaces with the virus on them.

With people gathering from all over the globe and packing together into their temporary housing accommodations, it’s not a huge surprise that a disease like norovirus — which is sometimes called the winter vomiting bug — would spread.

Olympics officials are spreading the word about how to slow the spread of norovirus.

Article continues below

“Dining halls are usually a disaster; everyone’s touching everything,” American speedskater Kimani Griffin told The Times. “We’ve definitely gone through every precaution we can take while traveling: wiping things down with Clorox wipes, hand sanitizing, face masks, gloves, whatever we can do prevent ourselves from coming into contact with it.”

And while the illness isn’t usually life-threatening, as long as a patient stays hydrated, it could potentially throw athletes off their game if they suffer diarrhea and vomiting in advance of their event. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done besides treat symptoms, so prevention really is the best way to deal when it comes to a viral infection like norovirus, since you basically just have to wait it out and let your body fight off the infection.

Officials are reportedly not panicking yet, though they’re not taking any chances, either. Vox reports that more than 1,200 guards have been quarantined over norovirus fears.

The disease incubates very quickly, usually revealing its symptoms in 12 to 48 hours after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, patients usually start to feel better after one to three days, so even if athletes get sick, their Olympic dreams won’t necessarily be shattered. Time will tell how badly this norovirus outbreak affects the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.


You’re driving alone down a dirt road, and you’re falling asleep at the wheel. Suddenly, a burst of light streaks across the sky — there’s a floating, flat shape in the air right in front of your truck, and though it soared quickly into view, it seems to have stopped completely. A beam of light shoots out from underneath the craft, and a little man with huge eyes, an enormous head, and a tiny body appears in the middle of the road. He doesn’t want to hurt you; he just wants to stick a probe in your nasal cavity.

On Monday, Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke with US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the fourth annual MLK Now event in New York City, and during a conversation that encompassed the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the current political climate, the freshman member of Congress brought up an a huge problem that she’s previously described as the “Civil Rights movement of our generation”: Climate change.

This December, Inverse is counting down the 25 most WTF moments in the world of science in 2018. Some are gross, some are amazing, and some are just, well, WTF. There are stories on kangaroos that got high on DMT, surprising research into fake news, a weird fact about early memories, a scientific study on booze, an explanation for why you’re sad after sex, and an appreciative ode to Neanderthals, among other strange and surprising stories of science this year.

The Earth’s magnetic field has always been in flux, thanks to the changing patterns of molten metals in the planet’s outer core. But a new report suggests that this natural variability has taken on surprising dimensions since 2015. New geologic evidence shows that the Earth’s magnetic field is changing far more and more frequently than usual. It’s not great news news for crucial global networks that depend on its stability, like navigational instruments and satellite GPS, as well as natural phenomena like animal migration, and even the protection we receive against solar winds.

Far beyond Neptune, small celestial bodies circle the sun in strange orbits. The paths of these “trans-Neptunian” objects aren’t the usual round or elliptical shape, suggesting that it isn’t just the sun that directs their movement. One of the leading theories for their wacky orbits is the existence of Planet Nine, a giant object at the edge of the solar system that exerts its gravitational pull on the smaller bodies. A paper released in The Astronomical Journal Monday, however, posits a far less dramatic explanation.