South Australian Olympians Receive No Explanation For Double Lockdown
he Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) says the South Australian Government’s decision to impose a 28-day quarantine for returning Australian Olympians defies expert medical advice of 14 days, poses a significant mental health risk for those athletes.
The fully vaccinated Australian Olympic team have arrived home and currently undergoing mandatory hotel quarantine at hotels and facilities around Australia, as many other Australians are required to do so.
Although most athletes have fled to quarantine for only 14 days in Darwin, the South Australian Government has imposed an extended quarantine period for those Australian athletes that have already undergone 14 days quarantine in Sydney, inflicting an additional 14 days when the athletes return to South Australia.
For a total of 28 days of isolation, the AOC is concerned for their athletes at a time of mental and emotional vulnerability.
Fifty-six athletes are returning to South Australia, with 16 currently quarantined in Sydney; Carrol said South Australia is the only state to inflict these rules.
Mr Carrol said the AOC has continuously followed the South Australian Health Department Exemption process, submitting medical evidence based on highly qualified medical advice.
“We have received no explanation as to why our application on behalf of these athletes has been rejected,” Carrol said.
“If you run an exemption process, presumably that includes the prospect that exemptions can be granted based on scientific advice.
“We have received no responses related to the expert advice we have provided.”
AOC CEO, Matt Carrol said the decision flies in the face of the expert medical advice of Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Chief Medical Officer, Dr David Hughes, saying that the mental health of athletes can be severely challenged after returning from a highly constrained Tokyo Games environment into further isolation of extended lockdown.
AIS Chief Medical Officer, Dr Hughes, added that while he respects the South Australian process to keep the state safe, the decision to reject the athlete’s application is profoundly flawed.
“To have individuals quarantined for such a lengthy period of time is, in my opinion, unreasonable and cannot be scientifically justified,” Dr Hughes said.
“It poses a significant risk to the physical and mental wellbeing of the individuals concerned.”
Mr Carrol said: “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,” Carrol said.
“We are all promoting the obvious benefits of vaccination, but this important layer of protection is not working in favour of the 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 utmost precautions – tested daily over many weeks.
Mr Carrol said there were numerous attempts to resolve this matter over some weeks and has been unsuccessful.
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,” Carrol said.
The AOC formally wrote to the South Australian Chief Medical Officer after weeks of discussion with the department staff and were informed of the decision that the Olympians would be required to home quarantine, on top of the two-week mandatory quarantine they have completed elsewhere.
Mr Carrol said the home quarantine option is no less impactful as athletes required to apply for home quarantine have no certainty of approval.
“Athletes subject to home quarantine will not be permitted a welcome home hug,” Carrol added.
“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.
“This is not an acceptable option for someone who is fully vaccinated and who has already just completed two weeks’ quarantine,” Mr Carrol concluded.