Just over a week before the start of the Dota 2 world championship tournament known as The International, Team Aster has announced on Weibo that three players—named by JoinDOTA as carry Du “Monet” Peng, offlaner Lin “Xxs” Jing and support Ye “BoBoKa” Zhibiao—along with coach Cheng “Mad” Han and other staff members have all tested positive for Covid-19.
Team Aster was staying in the same hotel as four other Chinese teams taking part in The International, whose members have not shown symptoms and are now awaiting test results. A Google translation of the original Weibo post says the positive Team Aster players are “asymptomatic [or] mildly ill.” The team is now in isolation and communicating with tournament organizers about the next steps.
The outbreak highlights the ongoing risk of holding live events during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which persists thanks to a combination of global inequity, bureaucratic bungling, and vaccine hesitancy. The International itself had to find a new venue at the last minute because of the pandemic, after original host country Sweden refused to adjust its restrictions to ensure that all players would be able to enter the country. The event was eventually moved to Bucharest, Romania.
Romania’s Covid-19 situation seemed reasonably under control when it was announced as the new home of The International 10, but that situation has worsened dramatically since then. Reuters says the country reported more than 11,000 new infections during a 24-hour span over September 28, and just over a third of its adult population has been vaccinated, the second-lowest vaccination rate in the EU. Bucharest and other Romanian cities are now preparing for new restrictions, according to the report.
Esports event organizer PGL, one of the organizers of The International 10, recently announced that participants and attendees will need to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination in order to take part in its 2022 events. I’ve reached out to Team Aster and PGL for more information on The International outbreak, and will update if I receive a reply.