Diving Australia has announced that it will withdraw the Australian Diving Team from the 2021 FINA Diving World Cup, which is the last opportunity for divers to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, because of a rise in coronavirus infections.
The Diving World Cup was rescheduled for May 1-6, after initially being canceled. That event is also planned as the Olympic Test event for the Tokyo Games.
“DA considers athlete health and safety our paramount priority and over the last few weeks, it has become clear that it would not be safe to send our athletes and officials to the World Cup,” the organization said in a release. “Japan is currently in the grip of a fourth wave of COVID-19 and we believe Tokyo will shortly re-enter a state of emergency.
“We remain confident that the Olympic will be a safe event as both (Diving Australia) and the Australian Olympic Committee believe athletes will be vaccinated ahead of the Games. Vaccination has not been possible ahead of the World Cup.”
So far, Australia has qualified 7 of a maximum 12 spots on its Olympic diving roster. If the FINA Diving World Cup goes ahead as planned in Japan, the country would be unable to qualify all 4 of the synchronized diving positions and 1 individual position in men’s 3 meter.
Other countries still seeking qualifications, including the United States, are still planning to attend.
Diving Australia says they are continuing to speak with FINA about rethinking the event, and several of Australia’s top divers spoke out on social media.
“Absolutely disappointed that we have to pull out of the event, but moreso disappointed in FINA and their decision to push forth with the World Cup,” said Maddison Keeney, who earned a bronze medal at the World Championships on 3-meter.
Anabelle Smith, her 3-meter synchro partner, also focused on FINA’s blame in the situation, saying: To have our teams opportunity to qualify in remaining events removed, due to FINAs decisions that consequentially oppose one of the very principles of Olympism ‘fair play’, is truly devastating.
Olympic qualifications are awarded to countries, not individuals, and the countries are then able to allocate those positions to their divers. The country’s second men’s 3-meter diver, Li Shixin, finished 24th at the 2019 World Championships. They had finalists in three of the four Olympic synchronized diving events, with a high finish by men’s platform pair Domonic Bedggood and Declan Stacey of 5th.
Japan reported 5,291 new infections of coronavirus on Thursday, which is its highest daily infection rate since January. Among a population of 126 million, that is a rate far lower than many other developed nations, but is still causing alarm in Japan, which has been slower to vaccinate than other countries of its economic size.
The United States, for example, has roughly 2.6 times the population of Japan, but is seeing 12-or-13 times the number of new infections. The U.S. has administered roughly 100-times the number of vaccines as Japan has as well.
Strict quarantine requirements on individuals entering the country has resulted in Australia seeing very low cases. Their current 7-day average is just 17 new infections per day, though that number has begun to creep up ever-so-slightly over the last week.
That also means relatively-limited natural immunity for Australians, and a fairly-limited level of urgency for vaccinations. So far, the country has administered enough vaccinations to cover 3.5% of its population.
Swimming Australia previously announced that it isn’t sending a team to the World Junior Championships scheduled for this summer in Russia nor the World University Games scheduled for this summer in China.