Tokyo Olympics: Australian athletes learn Games fate after COVID-19 worry

By Sports Desk July 29, 2021

Australia's track and field athletes endured a two-hour wait on Thursday before fears their Tokyo Olympics hopes might be in jeopardy were allayed.

A link was established to United States pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, who has tested positive for COVID-19 and been ruled out of the Games, and Australia's team were sent into isolation.

However, checks returned all-clear results, with only three athletics team members required to remain isolated.

Kendricks had reportedly been training this week alongside Australian Kurtis Marschall, and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) stated that three members of their squad had "brief casual contact" with a US athlete who had tested positive.

The upheaval came on the eve of the athletics programme getting under way at Tokyo 2020 and saw 57 Australian athletes and officials briefly in limbo.

In a statement, the AOC said: "Members of the Australian track and field team in the Tokyo Olympic Village have been cleared to return to their regular routines after earlier isolating in their rooms as a precautionary measure.

"The all-clear comes after three members of the team underwent PCR testing following a brief casual contact with a US track and field athlete who had tested positive to COVID-19.

"All three tested negative after undergoing a PCR test this afternoon, while team-mates remained in their rooms in line with AOC COVID protocols.

"The three, who are all vaccinated, self-reported once they heard news of the US athlete testing positive late this morning. All daily tests of the trio in the Village had also returned negative results."

 

The AOC said the three individuals who were tested would remain isolated for now but would be allowed to resume training on the proviso their contact with others is limited.

"At this stage all athletes are expected to compete as planned," the AOC said.

While those three athletes must follow the strict guidance, the AOC said 41 athletes and 13 officials had been given permission to leave their rooms after "a little over two hours" spent cooped up.

Australia chef de mission Ian Chesterman said: "Once again, abundant caution and our strict protocols continue to keep the team safe. We want every Australian athlete to be in a position to have their Olympic moment."

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