Olympic gold medalist and Giaan Rooney shared via Twitter that she won’t be traveling to Tokyo to commentate due to travel restrictions. Rooney added that Leisel Jones will take over the position and join Ian Thorpe and Basil Zempilas as Australia’s commentators for swimming at the Games.
Sadly won’t be able to commentate the swimming at these Olympics alongside @IanThorpe & @BasilZempilas due to border restrictions…😔 shattered but wearing ‘perspective coloured glasses’ – Leisel Jones stepping in will be 💯 pic.twitter.com/56BQSedcnT
— Giaan Rooney (@GiaanRooney) July 17, 2021
While Rooney was scheduled to commentate from the country’s commentating hub in Melbourne, and not on the ground in Tokyo, internal border controls related to the spread of COVID-19 have prevented her from traveling. Rooney says that because she lives in rural New South Wales, she is not allowed entry into Victoria, where Melbourne is located, to comment on the games.
That means she won’t be joining fellow Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe and Basil Zempilas on the announcer’s booth.
Current travel restrictions will allow individuals from New South Wales, where Zempilas lives, to join the studio team, though he’ll probably have to quarantine for two weeks before returning home. Soccer commentator Michael Zappone was hit by similar restrictions and won’t be able to travel to Sydney to commentate the games on 7Mate.
Australia has had among the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the world for most of the pandemic, including long mandatory quarantines for individuals entering the country, though that has kept the country at just 32,000 detected cases of COVID-19 and 914 attributed deaths. Those rates are far lower than most of the country and have allowed Australia to hold large-scale events and lift requirements like masking mandates earlier than most of the world.
New more viral variants entering the country and a low vaccination rate (enough doses have been given to cover 19.7% of the country), though, are leading to a relative-spike in Australia that has seen even different states and territories in the country lock their borders. The country is averaging about 114 cases per day over the last week. That rate of .4 infections/100,000 residents is very low by most countries’ standards, but for Australia are the highest numebrs they’ve seen since September 2020.
Giaan Rooney swam for Australia at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games for Australia and contributed to the country’s 4×100 medley and 4×200 freestyle silver medal finish in 2000 and their 4×100 medley gold in 2004. Rooney swam the sprint freestyle and backstrokes until 2006 and amassed a number of major international golds individually including 50 backstroke gold at 2005 Worlds, 200 free gold at 2001 Worlds, and 200 free bronze at the 2002 Pan Pac Championships. Rooney’s final international meet was the 2006 Commonwealth Games where she collected 2 silvers in the 50 and 100 backstrokes.
Since her retirement from the sport, Rooney has worked as a commentator for a number of swims meets in Australia including the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the recent 2021 Australian Swimming Trials in Adelaide. While Rooney won’t be commentating for Australia at Tokyo 2020, she wrote in her Tweet that in her absence, fellow Olympian Leisel Jones will be stepping into the role.
Jones is an Australian Olympic legend in her own right Olympic and the two actually won Olympic gold together in the women’s 4×100 medley relay along with Petria Thomas and Jodie Henry. Jones has also won a number of individual Olympic medals across 3 Games including 100 breast gold in 2008, 100 breast silver in 2000, 200 breast silver in 2004 and 2008, and 100 breast bronze in 2004.