The United States' Vincent Zhou has tested positive for COVID-19 and been ruled out of the men's singles ©Getty Images

American figure skater Vincent Zhou, considered one of the main contenders for the men's singles gold medal, has been ruled out of today's competition following a second positive COVID-19 test at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

The first positive test came a day after Zhou represented the United States in the team event, competing in the men's singles free skating, in which he finished third behind Yuma Kagiyama of Japan and the Russian Olympic Committee's (ROC) Mark Kondratiuk.

Nathan Chen, one of Zhou's rivals for the medals in the men's singles event, won the short programme for the US the day before in team qualifying.

World Championship bronze medallist Zhou had to undergo further testing to confirm his status.

A spokesperson for US Figure Skating said he would be able to compete if he tested negative.

Zhou took to Instagram last night to confirm he was withdrawing from the competition.

"I have tested positive for COVID-19 and unfortunately I will have to withdraw from the individual event," said Zhou in an emotional five-minute video.

"I have taken all the precautions I can, I have isolated myself so much that the loneliness I've felt the past month or two has been crushing at times.

"The enorminity of the situation and the pain of it all is pretty insane, but I do recognise that this does not define me as an athlete, as a person.

"I am more than just another positive COVID-19 test, I am more than just another face in the crowd.

"While it was always my dream to medal on an Olympic stage, I did accomplish before all this happened."

The 21-year-old reiterated in the video that he was not planning to retire, despite the incident.

"This is not the end, this is a set-up for a bigger comeback," he said. 

Zhou and Chen were expected to contend for the Olympic title, alongside Japanese stars Yuzuru Hanyu, the two-time defending Olympic champion, and Shoma Uno.

Vincent Zhou had been expected to be among the main rivals of Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan's two-time defending Olympic champion, at Beijing 2022
Vincent Zhou had been expected to be among the main rivals of Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan's two-time defending Olympic champion, at Beijing 2022

The positive test was confirmed less than an hour before a venue ceremony to honour the top three of the team event, in which the US won the silver medal behind the ROC and in front of Japan.

Zhou is not the first figure skater to test positive for the virus prior to or during the Games. 

The ROC's Mikhail Kolyada, a World Championship bronze medallist, was ruled out of Beijing 2022 late last month after contracting COVID-19 prior to a pre-Olympic training camp.

Kolyada was replaced by Evgeni Semenenko.

Hanyu, who has asthma, skipped the 2020 Grand Prix of Figure Skating season due to concerns over COVID-19.