Unvaccinated Swiss snowboarder says Beijing Games quarantine no punishment

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Snowboarding - FIS Snowboard Alpine World Championship - Women's Parallel Giant Slalom - Rogla, Slovenia - March 2, 2021 Switzerland's Patrizia Kummer in action REUTERS/Borut Zivulovic

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BEIJING, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Unvaccinated Swiss snowboarder Patrizia Kummer said she had to overcome unexpected hurdles to earn a spot at the Beijing winter Olympics next month, but does not feel a mandatory 21-day quarantine is punishment.

The 34-year-old Kummer, who won gold at the Sochi 2014 Games, is already in quarantine in the Chinese capital as an unvaccinated athlete and said getting to China involved missing qualifying races and worrying about a spot on the Swiss team.

"So, last spring I decided... I had to take the decision if I wanted to take the vaccine or not," Kummer, already a week into her quarantine, told a news conference.

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"In the end, I just decided like, no, for personal reasons," she said.

Initially she said her decision had not affected her preparations, until Games organisers announced late last year that unvaccinated athletes bound for Beijing would have to quarantine for three weeks on arrival.

While vaccinated athletes are not required to quarantine, Kummer was forced to overhaul her competition schedule and leave for Beijing much earlier, while also worrying whether she would make the cut.

"Back in spring when I took the decision... I would not have dreamt of that, that this (quarantine) could be possible."

"I don't feel punished because I knew from the beginning of September that I have to go for quarantine if I go the Olympics," she said.

"Back then I thought my chances were so slim. But I know what I have to do and I understand that all the countries want to protect their people, because we are living in a pandemic and it is what it is."

Kummer said she was dealing with quarantine well despite being away from her team members, and was also managing to put in training sessions indoors.

"So we have to deal with it and I deal with it my own way and for me. It is ok, because I am creative enough that I can do a good physical training," she said.

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Reporting by Reuters Television, Writng by Cecile Mantovani and Karolos Grohmann Editing by Toby Davis

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