Late last month we reported how Olympic champion Mack Horton was among athletes fleeing the Australian state of Victoria before a new lockdown was put in place due to a coronavirus outbreak. As an elite swimmer, Horton was among the high-performance programs situated in Victoria that were moved by Swimming Australia to Queensland as a preemptive move.
As of Thursday, May 27th, Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous with around 6.7 million residents, instituted a seven-day lockdown that has since been extended. It is currently set to end on June 10th. With the Australian Olympic Trials are set to begin on Saturday, June 12th, this leaves little wiggle room to travel cross-country to arrive in South Australia for the nation’s biggest swimming event.
As such, a group of Victorian athletes was granted exemptions by the South Australian government to travel interstate for the competition. However, these swimmers are reportedly being denied access to the Trials event due to meet organizers being unable to implement the required COVID-19-safe management restrictions for interstate travelers, as recommended by the health department
According to a Daily Mail report, the South Australian Health department stated, “The [Trials] event organisers were unable to implement changes suggested by SA Health for the event which has resulted in 12 Victorian swimmers unable to participate.
“When we have to restrict movement from other jurisdictions into South Australia because of a serious Covid outbreak, first and foremost, we prioritise the health and wellbeing of the South Australian community.
“Any Covid Management Plan event is developed in partnership with the organiser to ensure associated exemption applications can be safely approved, particularly when there is a Covid-19 outbreak in another jurisdiction.” (Daily Mail)
Swimming Australia Chief Executive Alex Baumann commented, “SA Health requires that those people operate within a sterile corridor and not come into direct contact with any other athletes, coaches, staff and spectators, which cannot be implemented due to the nature of our sport.”
“We empathise with the athletes who are unable to compete in Adelaide at the 2021 Australian Swimming trials due to the South Australian Government’s Covid restrictions.
However, the report indicates that the same measures were successfully adopted by the AFL last weekend when Collingwood players travelled to South Australia.
Today, June 10th, Swimming Victoria posted the following statement on its organization’s website:
With multiple lockdowns, months out of the water, cancelled competitions and disruptions to life in general, it certainly hasn’t been easy for our Victorian athletes.
So for the near 90 strong group of Victorian athletes that qualified for the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials, we want to acknowledge what you have achieved.
Unfortunately, current border restrictions have prevented a number of our athletes from attending the Trials in Adelaide. Whether you are competing or not, we want you to know that we are proud of you. Qualifying for Olympic Trials is an amazing achievement.