South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has fired back after the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) criticised the government for their “cruel and uncaring” decision to force returning Olympians into an extra 14 days of quarantine.
Sixteen athletes from South Australia are completing their initial 14-day hotel quarantine in Sydney after flying back to NSW from Tokyo, but with the SA government’s proposal, they’d be stuck inside for another fortnight in their home state.
Marshall stressed just how unfortunate the situation was for the athletes, but he said rules were rules and they were in place for a good reason.
“It’s devastating for people who have already done 14 days,” Marshall told reporters on Thursday.
Camera IconSteven Marshall has no plans to alter the state’s quarantine rules for returning Olympians. (NCA NewsWire / Naomi Jellicoe) Credit: The Advertiser
“It is a tough decision but we have got to take tough decisions to protect South Australia.
“This is a tough rule but … we’re going to keep it in place in this instance.
“It is very very tough and we feel for these athletes.
“But every person coming in from Sydney at the moment is required to do 14 days of quarantine.”
Marshall’s response comes a day after AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said the SA government’s decision to extend quarantine was punishment for the athletes who represented Australia in Tokyo.
“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 on Wednesday.
“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.”
Australian Institute of Sport chief medical officer Dr David Hughes was concerned over the toll an extra quarantine would have on the athletes’ physical and mental health.
“To have individuals quarantined for such a lengthy period of time is in my opinion unreasonable and cannot be scientifically justified,” Hughes said.
“It poses a significant risk to the physical and mental wellbeing of the individuals concerned.
“National cabinet took a position that a double quarantine arrangement was unacceptable. Every CovidSafe procedure we have asked the Olympians to undergo, they have complied with.
“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.”Internet Explorer Channel Network