Australia athletes barred from other Commonwealth Games venues over COVID risk

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian athletes will be banned from supporting their team mates at other Commonwealth Games events at Birmingham due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission, team chef de mission Petria Thomas said.

They will also have to wear face masks when not in their rooms or exercising at the July 28 – Aug. 8 Games as part of team health protocols.

“Our primary focus is that we can get our athletes to the starting line and they are performance ready,” Thomas told News Corp media on Wednesday.

“We have to put these measures in place to minimise the transmission of COVID and other diseases as well.”

COVID continues to disrupt global sport, with a number of swimmers forced to pull out of the recent swimming world championships in Budapest after testing positive.

Around 5,000 athletes from 72 nations and territories are due to compete at Birmingham.

The Office for National Statistics estimated 3.95% of people in England, or one in 25, were COVID positive during the week ending June 29.

Athletes were subject to strict COVID protocols while in a “closed loop” at the Beijing Winter Olympics and also at last year’s summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Unlike the Olympics, athletes will not have to leave Birmingham soon after their events finish.

Thomas said Australia’s athletes would be permitted to stay and support team mates but not at their competition venues.

“There won’t be an opportunity to go and watch other events because unfortunately those seats will be in public spectating areas, which presents a very high risk of COVID-19 transmission,” she added.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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