Both the Australian Age Swimming Championships and Australian Swimming Championships scheduled for April have been cancelled by Swimming Australia due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Australian Swimming Championships are not the nation’s Olympic Trials. The Trials meet, like that of the United States, takes place in June, closer to the still-planned-at-this-time Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell said the decision was based on the health and safety of the swimming community and their wider families. At the time of publishing, there have been 128 COVID-19 cases reported in Australia, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
You can read the full Swimming Australia statement below.
“We understand that there will be significant disappointment for our swimmers who have put in so much time and effort to be in peak condition for this event, but these are unprecedented times and the welfare and safety of our athletes, coaches, staff, technical officials, members and their families is paramount and at the centre of our decision-making,” said Russell.
“This is a constantly evolving situation and we are already seeing substantial and widespread event cancellations and postponements worldwide.
“We appreciate that there are families that have made or are needing to make travel arrangements to head to Perth, so we wanted to give them as much time as possible to amend these plans if possible and provide certainty.
“Keeping with current government advice, there are no plans to change State or local events of less than 500 people that are currently happening, but these events will be carefully reviewed daily by State organisations.
Russell said consideration was given to holding the events without spectators.
“In our decision to cancel these events, we also considered holding these events without spectators.
“Given that these events are to be held in Perth, and Age Championships has large numbers of children that need to travel with their families to the event, we don’t believe holding the events without spectators would achieve the main goal of avoiding the transmission of the virus.”
“We are making the call on our future given we do not know what the situation may be in two or three weeks’ time but need to prepare for it to worsen.
Russell said Swimming Australia also reviewed the need for international and domestic travel for staff, coaches and athletes in the coming weeks.
“We are an incredibly mobile group both nationally and internationally which puts us in many situations where we could be exposed to the virus.
“We will continue to take advice from the relevant authorities and follow government recommendations but have taken a conservative approach given our work with high performance athletes preparing for the Olympics and Paralympics and cancelled all non-essential travel for the next two weeks.
“This is an extremely important year for our elite athletes and coaches and our priority is to have them fit and healthy for selection.”
Russell added preparation for the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Trials in June continues.
“We are in constant contact with the AOC and Paralympics Australia regarding Tokyo 2020 and will continue to follow the advice of them and the IOC and the IPC.
“Our athletes will continue to train and prepare for Olympic and Paralympic trials in June, while following the guidance provided by the AIS around reducing their risk of exposure.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely in conjunction with our own medical staff and the appropriate organisations and update as necessary.
“These are unique and challenging times for our community, and we will continue to adapt as appropriate with the health and safety of our people at the forefront of every decision.”