A group of Australia’s potential Olympic swimmers have been moved from Melbourne to prevent the city’s coronavirus outbreak jeopardising selection trials for the looming Tokyo Games.
Some 27 swimmers and coaches including reigning Olympic 400 metre freestyle champion Mack Horton have left Melbourne for the Gold Coast.
The swimmers, from both the Olympics and Paralympics, could remain in Queensland until the Games selection trials in Adelaide starting on June 12.
A Swimming Australia spokeswoman said the athletes were relocated on Wednesday as greater Melbourne prepares to enter a seven-day lockdown from midnight Thursday amid a worsening COVID-19 outbreak.
An Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) spokesman said any decision on relocating athletes from Melbourne was being left to authorities from respective sports.
The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8 with Australia’s athletes in the process of receiving coronavirus vaccinations.
Australia’s Olympic softball squad will be among the first overseas athletes to arrive in Tokyo.
The softballers are departing Australia on Monday for a training camp in Japan and will remain there until the Games.
The 23-woman squad will land in Tokyo on June 1 for a six-week camp in Ota, about 80 kilometres north-west of the capital.
The squad will be trimmed to a 15-strong team for the Olympics with Australia’s opening game scheduled against the host nation on July 21, two days before the opening ceremony.
The squad will depart from Sydney with no member originating from Melbourne, the AOC spokesman said.
Domestic Australian sports are grappling with Melbourne’s outbreak with the AFL chiefly impacted.
The AFL has shifted Richmond’s match against Adelaide on Sunday from the MCG to Sydney.
Gold Coast’s clash with Hawthorn in Darwin on Saturday night is in limbo and will almost certainly not be played in the Northern Territory capita as scheduled.
Two AFL clubs – Carlton and Essendon – on Wednesday departed Melbourne for Sydney and Perth respectively to avoid being trapped by any fresh travel restrictions imposed by the Victorian government.
In the NRL, Melbourne will remain at their Sunshine Coast facility in Queensland after Thursday night’s game against Brisbane.
The Storm were initially planned to return to Melbourne post-game after having been based on the Sunshine Coast for the past two weeks.
Other sports have also acted in response to the Melbourne outbreak with netball’s Melbourne Vixens travelling on Wednesday to Brisbane, two days before their due departure for their Super Netball game against the Queensland Firebirds.
In basketball, the NBL rescheduled some 20 matches while the hierarchy of soccer’s A-League awaiting announcements from Victoria’s government on Thursday before deciding how their competition is impacted.
The Supercars’ Winton Supersprint, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in northern Victoria, has been postponed until May 31 and August 1.