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.
Swimming Australia put in place selection criteria that would allow swimmers to post times at a number of swim meets prior to the trials.
At least one Victorian Para athlete, who can’t get to the trials, posted qualifying times at those meets and will have asked for his times to be considered for selection on the Paralympic team. No doubt he would prefer to swim at the trials to swim faster and ensure a spot, but, having spoken to his coach, he is aware that his traveling to the trials might jeopardize the health of other athletes, and possibly the wider community, were he to have been infected prior to travel.
I believe current restrictions within the state… Read more »
Outrageous behaviour by the swim meet organisers and state officialdom. It’s all about how hard you try. The kids who have been excluded have tried their utmost to get to the trials, and hopefully Olympic selection. They have put it all on the line. Such a small number to accommodate, there was a solution in there somewhere. It needed the organisers to put it all on the line to find it. Look at what the big professional sports have done in similar circumstances. At the very least these kids should be able to do a sanctioned time trial in Victoria, not satisfactory but something.
This is why you could put down qualifying times in the National Championships in April or the Sydney Open in May. It was always likely to happen
All the non Australians don’t realise that South Australia has basically had zero cases this year, have had zero changes to their lives and move around freely, and they want to keep it this way
SA exported this outbreak to Vic.
Are the SA Health safe management restrictions requirements or suggestions? The article calls them both.
Requirements. Each state has their own rules about interstate travel at the moment but with S.A -Travel by anyone who has been in Victoria over the last 14 days is prohibited without an exemption from S.A health.
Can anyone highlight who is missing out here?Any potential breakout performers or top 15-20 seeds hit by this?
They should do a time trial in their home pools at the same time as the finals and see how close they could have been. Post it on Youtube as well.
I know some of Nunawading’s older swimmers camped up in Queensland for the lockdown and as such can swim trials but I haven’t heard about their young stars so I suggest they will be out of trials and a number of these young stars are certainly top 15 or 20. 16yo Petric is 6th ranked in 400IM as an example of who may be missing. There are some very talented swimmers that will not be at trials as a result of travel restrictions and it is such a shame for both the athletes and the sport.
I really wanted to see Petric at trials. 🙁
Yes, both Petric and his training partner Chee are both super exciting, talented young swimmers. I am only guessing as to their participation so I hope they have found a way to make it to Adelaide and swim, but odds are against them.
Australia is such a mess rn. Our government is almost as totalitarian as a communist state.
A communist state is an oxymoron
The piano has fallen on those swimmers…
This is absolute madness. What outbreak? The 7 day case average has not been above 25 since Sept/Oct of last year FOR THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.
I feel so bad for Australia and the swimmers there. Canada is or well was a hot mess with covid numbers. Even where I live we are average 30 cases a day and that’s for 1.5million people.
Very much still is a hot mess.