The Australian Olympic Committee has released a blistering statement slamming the South Australian government’s decision to ignore expert medical advice by imposing a 28 day quarantine for returning Aussie Olympians, rather than the standard 14 day quarantine.
Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) Chief Executive Officer Matt Carroll condemned the decision for disrespecting expert medical advice from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), whose Chief Medical Officer Dr David Hughes advised that the mental health of athletes could be severely impacted after returning from the stressful Tokyo Games environment only to be isolated for a month.
“While other countries are celebrating the return of their athletes, we are subjecting ours to the most cruel and uncaring treatment. They are being punished for proudly representing their country with distinction at the Olympic Games,” Carroll said.
“We are all promoting the obvious benefits of vaccination, but this important layer of protection is not working in favour of these athletes, given this decision. By any measure, this group of returning Olympians is extremely low risk.
“Not only are our Olympians fully vaccinated, but they have also been living in a highly controlled bubble in Tokyo, taking the upmost precautions – tested daily over many weeks,” he said.
Such a shame the South Australian Olympians aren’t AFL players. All would be ok then.
We have lost the plot as a nation. https://t.co/mBpb1GwMMh
— David Culbert (@Culbert_Report) August 11, 2021
Carroll went on to say that the AOC had been following medical advice and that there were no reasons given for why rules had changed.
“We have received no explanation as to why our application on behalf of these athletes has been rejected. If you run an exemption process, presumably that includes the prospect than exemptions can be granted based on scientific advice. We have received no response related to the expert advice we have provided,” Carroll said.
AIS Chief Medical Officer Dr David Hughes said that while he respects that the South Australian govt is trying to keep the state safe, the decision to reject the athletes’ application is still unfair.
“To have individuals quarantined for such a lengthy period of time is in my opinion unreasonable and cannot be scientifically justified. It poses a significant risk to the physical and mental wellbeing of the individuals concerned,” Dr Hughes said.
Should Olympian Bel White be required to complete another 14 days in isolation by @sagovau, she will have spent 87 days away from her loved ones
We fully support the @AUSOlympicTeam's stance on this posing a significant mental health risk
— Softball Australia (@SoftballOz) August 11, 2021
Carroll said that the AOC made numerous attempts to resolve the matter over several weeks without success.
“National Cabinet took a position that a double quarantine arrangement was unacceptable. Every COVID-safe procedure we have asked the Olympians to undergo, they have complied with. They can safely transfer to their home states after the mandatory hotel quarantine period without interacting with the public,” he said.
After The Australian Olympic Committee wrote formally to the SA Chief Medical Officer (after many weeks of discussions with staff), they were informed on Wednesday that the Olympians would be allowed to do their second half of the 28 day quarantine at home, after doing the first two weeks in a hotel.
this is crazy. absolutely crazy. these athletes would have been tested every 10 minutes in Tokyo. https://t.co/d9H77gxNuS
— Vince Rugari (@VinceRugari) August 11, 2021
Carroll maintains that this is still unfair, especially since the athletes have to apply for home quarantine and there’s no guarantee it’ll get approved.
“Athletes subject to home quarantine will not be permitted a welcome home hug. Either the athlete’s family must move away, the athlete must find a way of isolating from the family or the entire family goes into quarantine. That is not an acceptable option for someone who is fully vaccinated and who has already just completed two weeks’ quarantine,” Carroll concluded.