A Hungarian Olympic gold medallist and anti-vax conspiracy theorist has died of Covid-19 at the age of 51, weeks after getting the jab to continue his work as a coach.
Szilveszter Csollany fell sick in December and was hospitalised and placed on a ventilator for weeks, with local authorities announcing his death on Monday.
While Csollany had shared several ‘anti-vax’ posts on his Facebook page, he had been vaccinated in order to work as a gymnastics coach, Budapest newspaper Blikk reported at the start of January.
Hungary’s 2000 Olympics gold medal winning gymnast Szilveszter Csollany (pictured left and right holding his gold medal on the podium in Sydney, September 24, 2000) has died of Covid-19 aged 51, local authorities said on Monday
However, the publication said that it had been shortly before he fell ill which had not allowed him to develop a sufficient level of antibodies.
‘It is with profound sadness that we inform you of the death of Szilveszter Csollany,’ said the Hungarian Olympic Committee.
Csollany took a silver medal on the rings at the Atlanta Games in 1996, going one better in Sydney four years later when he saw off Greece’s Dimosthenis Tampakos and the Bulgarian Yordan Yovchev to take the gold.
European champion in 1998, he also won gold at the 2002 World Championships in Debrecen.
‘The Olympic champion gymnast achieved outstanding results not only as an athlete, but also an excellent husband and a very good father,’ the Hungarian Gymnastics Federation said.
After retiring, Csollany went on to work as a coach in both Iceland and Austria.
‘Farewell champion’, wrote Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a message accompanied by a black and white photo.
Fellow gymnast Zoltan Magyar, a Hungarian Olympic champion in 1976 and 1980, lamented ‘a huge loss, at such a young age’.
Csollany’s last post of Facebook – on August 10 – showed the medallist speaking to a medical professional on the phone about the vaccine.
In the caption below, he wrote: ‘I just want to understand! I’m not against or in favor of vaccine…. really don’t know what’s good … and this video shows exactly why I don’t know.
Pictured: Szilveszter Csollany (second-right) with his wife Jutka and her two children. According to Facebook, he married his wife only months ago on August 12, 2021
In a post on Instagram (pictured), he shared a picture of him holding what appears to be vodka. ‘I vaccinated myself!’ he wrote. ‘And you didn’t have to wait weeks for the repeater,’ he added, presumably referring to a second dose or booster jab. [Note: Google translate translated the Olympian’s name to New Year’s Eve]
‘The information they give is nonsense. If they can explain it logically, then everyone will surprise themselves a long time ago.’
In a post on Instagram, he shared a picture of him holding what appears to be vodka. ‘I vaccinated myself!’ he wrote. ‘And you didn’t have to wait weeks for the repeater,’ he added, presumably referring to a second dose or booster jab.
According to Facebook, he married his wife – Jutka Csollány – only months ago on August 12, 2021.
Like may European countries, Hungary is experiencing a spike in Covid-19 infections, largely fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
On Monday, the country saw a record number of new infections in a single day, reporting almost 40,000 new cases.
Csollany’s death comes after a Czech anti-vax folk singer died after deliberately catching Covid to obtain a health pass to allow her to visit the sauna and theatre.
Hana Horka, the vocalist for the band Asonance, died on January 16 after contracting the Delta variant at the age of 57, according to her son Jan Rek.
She voluntarily exposed herself to the virus when her husband and son, both vaccinated, caught it before Christmas, Rek told public radio iRozhlas.cz.
Proof of vaccination or a recent infection is required to access cultural and sports facilities as well as for travel and for visiting bars and restaurants in the EU member state, which is facing a soaring Covid count.
Czech folk singer Hana Horka (pictured) died after deliberately catching Covid to obtain a health pass to allow her to visit the sauna and theatre
The vocalist for the band Asonance, died on January 16 after contracting the Delta variant at the age of 57, according to her son Jan Rek
Horka went for a walk outside but when she returned she started to complain about back pain and soon after, died choking in her bed, her son said.
Rek blamed the death on a local anti-vax movement, saying its leaders had brainwashed his mother against vaccination and had ‘blood on their hands’.
‘I know exactly who influenced her… It makes me sad that she believed strangers more than her proper family,’ Rek said.
‘It wasn’t just total disinformation but also views on natural immunity and antibodies acquired through infection,’ he added.
The country of 10.7 million people announced almost 13,000 new Covid infections on Monday, while averaging around 22,000 new cases across a seven-days.