Australia’s Olympic skateboarding preparations are in shambles after three members tested positive to COVID-19 after traveling to the United States for a qualifying event.
Two athletes, including a 13-year-old skater, are now out of the running for the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive at the qualifying event, along with their coach.
The group of 11 Australian skaters and coaches flew to the US earlier this month for an Olympic qualifying event in Des Moines, Iowa. The entire Australian contingent was disqualified because they were deemed close contacts of the three members who tested positive.
13-year-old Melbourne skater, Charlotte Heath, confirmed her diagnosis on Instagram, saying she was “bummed about not being to compete” in the US event.
“I have to quarantine for a while now and I was really looking forward to this comp, but at least I got to travel to America and go to all the sick skateparks while I could,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
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Skate Australia said the health of the three members was being monitored daily, and they are being isolated from other team members. Other members of the team have returned multiple negative tests, including Australia’s top-ranked female skateboarder, Poppy Olsen, who has already qualified for the Olympics.
President of Skate Australia, Karen Doyle, said the negative tested athletes are continuing to compete in the Iowa event, which finishes on May 23.
Olsen, who spoke to ABC’s Radio National this morning, said the news was “devastating” as today marked the final qualification competition for the members who contracted the virus. She said Iowa was the last opportunity for the COVID positive skaters to qualify.
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The entire team was set to stay in San Diego before either returning home or travelling to Tokyo if successful at the qualifiers.
Skateboarding to make Olympic debut
The Tokyo Olympics will mark the debut of Skateboarding in the Olympic program. It will be split into two disciplines: street and park. For the street competition, a street-like course with obstacles, such as handrails, stairs, curbs, and slopes will be used. The park competition will contain hollowed out bowls and pools in a complex combination with ramps and course bends.
Both positive athletes were park skaters and Iowa was the last opportunity for park skaters to qualify. Skate Australia says it still believes it will field nine or ten athletes in its Olympics team.
Luckily, not all our skateboarders need to go across to the US to qualify.
Melbourne street skater, Hayley Wilson, is already ranked 7th in the Women’s Street and has guaranteed a spot in the Olympics. She is set to fly directly to Tokyo from Australia.
LA-based skater, Shane O’Neil, is ranked 16th in the world for Men’s street and has qualified for the Dew Tour men’s final on Sunday.