Australian athletes will have just 48 hours to let loose after completing their Commonwealth Games events before having to pack up and leave their athletes’ villages under the team’s strict COVID-19 protocols.
On Wednesday, officials said they were “agonizing” over the policy but decided it was necessary to minimize infection among the cohort of 700 athletes, coaches and support staff.
“This is designed to ensure that those who are still in the villages are those who are competing, and to minimize the risk that those who might want to go out and leave the village bring the infection back to the team,” said the CEO of Commonwealth Games Australia. Craig Phillips told reporters.
The 48-hour period will be the only time athletes will have a pass to mingle in public, with their movements otherwise confined to athlete villages, training and competition venues.
“The risk, I assume, of contracting COVID during this time after their competition but before they leave and passing it on to other people is thought to be very low,” said chef de mission Petria Thomas.
“We realize that we really want our team members to be able to perform at their best, but we also want them to have a positive experience and we felt that was something we could allow given the low risk as indicated by our COVID advisory. band.”
Around 5,000 athletes from 72 nations and territories are due to compete in Birmingham.
Athletes were under strict COVID protocols while on “closed loop” at the Winter Olympics in Beijing and also at last year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Australia topped the standings with 80 gold medals at their home Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast four years ago, well ahead of second-placed England with 45.