Two Australian Olympic skateboarding hopefuls have had their Tokyo dreams dashed after returning positive COVID tests in the United States, along with their coach.
- Australian skateboarders flew to the US earlier this month for an Olympic qualifying event
- Skate Australia said the health of three ill team members was being monitored daily
- Two Australian skateboarders had already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics
The skateboarders were part of an Australian contingent who flew to the US earlier this month for an Olympic qualifying event in Des Moines, Iowa.
The entire Australian team was disqualified from the event because they were deemed close contacts of the three team members who tested positive.
One of those who contracted COVID, Charlotte Heath from Victoria, confirmed her diagnosis on Instagram, saying she was “bummed about not being able to compete” in the US event.
Skate Australia said the health of the three team members was being monitored daily, and they were being isolated from other team members.
Other members of the team have returned multiple negative PCR tests, including Australia’s top-ranked female skateboarder, Poppy Olsen, who has already qualified for Tokyo.
“They’re pretty devastated because myself [and] another member, Keegan Palmer, we were the only two who were really officially locked in to go to the Olympics,” she told RN Breakfast.
“Everyone else, this was pretty much their last shot to get in so 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.”
Poppy Olsen said most members of the team received one dose of the COVID vaccine prior to leaving Australia, and were planning to receive the second dose at the team’s base in San Diego.
“It was pretty difficult for us to get the vaccine in the first place, it was a bit of a push and I think we all knew the challenges and wanted to come and compete at this competition anyway,” she said.
“I think we’re stuck here (in Iowa) for a little bit longer just so we can determine that everyone is definitely negative and then go back (to San Diego) and get the second dose, which would be amazing.”
Skate Australia said it believed Australia’s medal chances were still high in both the skateboarding disciplines of Skate and Street.
Australian skateboarders who qualify for the Tokyo Olympics will not return to Australia before the games.
The Australian Olympic Committee said it would continue to work with Skate Australia to assist athletes.
Australia’s chef de mission, Ian Chesterman, said it was his understanding that all athletes who were part of the skateboarding contingent received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Everyone had one injection or vaccination prior to leaving, they’ll get a second one over there now and it’s just unfortunate that they’ve ended up in this situation where they’re unable to compete in that qualifying event,” he said.
“I think it’s certainly unfortunate for these athletes who’ve been caught by this but everybody went into the arrangement knowing that there were some risks associated with that.”
Mr Chesterman said he believed Charlotte Heath, who is 13, is being accompanied by one of her parents in the United States.