South Australia’s government is refusing to lift another quarantine period for returning Olympians despite widespread backlash.
A group of 16 Olympians from SA are quarantining in Sydney for 14 days and will be forced to isolate for another fortnight when they return home.
The Australian Olympic Committee has described the SA government edict as cruel and defying medical advice.
And while SA Premier Steven Marshall said the further quarantine period was “devastating” for the Olympians, he has refused to change the rule.
“It’s devastating for people who have already done 14 days,” he said on Thursday.
“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.”
Mr Marshall said he was particularly mindful that SA’s most recent lockdown – for a seven-day period that ended on July 27 – was prompted by a resident returning from NSW.
That resident served a 14-day quarantine in NSW, tested negative for coronavirus, returned to SA and then developed symptoms and subsequently tested positive.
Mr Marshall said the AOC was unable to create a sterile corridor of transit for SA’s Olympians.
He expected the “vast majority” of the 16 athletes to isolate at their homes, rather than in designated quarantine hotels.
On Wednesday, AOC chief executive Matt Carroll described the SA edict as “the most cruel and uncaring treatment”.
And Australia’s Olympic team chief medical officer David Hughes said the SA government decision was flawed.
“To have individuals quarantined for such a lengthy period of time is … unreasonable and cannot be scientifically justified,” Dr Hughes said in a statement on Wednesday.
“It poses a significant risk to the physical and mental wellbeing of the individuals.”