Aussies seek “fair play” from Olympic organisers in pandemic

Swimming Australia said in a statement it hopes the IOC and paralympic organisers are doing everything to ensure athletes can perform in healthy conditions.

The main pool in the aquatics centre in Tokyo   -  Getty Images

Australia’s swimmers are more concerned about a level playing field than ruling the pool at the Olympics.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 10,000 people and infected more than 240,000, sending some cities into lock down, some countries to close borders and most major sports events and leagues to be suspended, postponed or canceled.

The IOC and Tokyo organisers still maintain that the Olympic will start as scheduled on July 24, despite travel bans, isolation requirements and other issues meaning thousands of athletes still haven't qualified for their events.

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“We are still preparing for the Olympics and Paralympics to the best of our ability but we absolutely understand that for a lot of our peers and colleagues this isn’t the reality anymore, as it may not be for us soon," Swimming Australia said in a release co-signed by head coach Jacco Verhaeren on Friday, not long after Olympic flame from Greece landed in Japan.

"We hope the IOC and (Paralympic organizers) are considering everything they can to ensure that there is a level playing field, with athletes being able to perform in healthy conditions.”

The key theme? It would be fairer to postpone the Olympics.

Swimming has been a regular source of medals at the Olympics and world championships for Australia, where the climate, location and relatively high number of Olympic-size pools is an advantage, but not an insurmountable one.

"At the heart of the Olympic and Paralympic competition is the notion of fair play — a value we hold very close, and we do not want that to be compromised,” the statement continued.

“We know athlete preparation is being severely compromised. Friendship and solidarity are important Olympic and Paralympic values and we stand with you in this time of uncertainty.”

The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 86,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.