MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A team of Australian skateboarders was disqualified from an Olympic qualifying event in the United States after three positive COVID-19 tests in their group, Australian media reported on Monday.
Two Olympic hopefuls and a coach tested positive after arriving in the United States, and others in the group were ruled out of the qualifier in Des Moines, Iowa, because they were deemed close contacts of the coach, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Melbourne skater Charlotte Heath revealed she was one of the group who had tested positive in a post on social media.
Other members of the group had tested negative, including Australia’s top-ranked female skateboarder Poppy Olsen who had already qualified for Tokyo.
Olsen said a number of skaters in the group would no longer be able to qualify for the park skating at Tokyo because the Iowa event was their last chance.
“They’re pretty devastated because myself (and) another member, Keegan Palmer, we were the only two people that were really officially locked in to go to the Olympics,” she told ABC radio.
“Everyone else, this was their last shot to get in so, yeah, it’s pretty devastating for those girls.
“Everyone’s doing alright, our coach is OK, he’s got some cold and flu-like symptoms but he’s doing alright and he’s being monitored.”
Olsen added that most of the team members had only had one vaccine shot in Australia before travelling and had planned to get a second one in the United States.
“It was pretty difficult for us to get the vaccine in the first place … I think we all knew the challenges and wanted to compete at this competition anyway, especially the people who really needed this competition as the last event to get points,” she said.
Australia started vaccinating Olympic athletes two weeks ago for the July 23-Aug. 8 Games after the national Olympic committee secured approval from authorities for priority access to vaccines.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Jane Wardell)