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Infection and elite athletes

Despite being in such good health, elite athletes also need time to recover after being infected by the novel coronavirus. Economists Kai Fischer and W. Benedikt Schmal of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany, and J. James Reade of the University of Reading, UK, identified around 230 players from the German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A who have had COVID-19 and evaluated their performance. After infection, their performances worsened. Play time decreased by an average of 9% and passes completed dropped by 6% compared to before they had the virus. It took months to return to their previous level (Dice Discussion Paper, August 2021). The observed outcomes among elite players may be common for other athletes. In Brazil, a group from the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics in Rio de Janeiro interviewed 414 athletes from 22 sports at the end of 2020. Of the total, 8.5% had been infected (only 40% had been tested). Among those who had not tested positive, 26% had experienced at least three symptoms of COVID-19 (Biology of Sport, October 2021).