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Aussie skateboarders test positive for COVID-19 in Games setback

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Ian Chesterman Australia

FILE – Australian Team Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 Ian Chesterman speaks at the Australian Olympic Team Opening Ceremony Uniform Unveiling at the Wylie Baths in Sydney on May 18, 2021. (Photo by BIANCA DE MARCHI / AFP)

MELBOURNE – A team of Australian skateboarders was disqualified from an Olympic qualifying event in the United States after three positive COVID-19 tests in their group.

Two skateboarders, including 13-year-old Charlotte Heath, and a coach tested positive in the United States, and others in the group were ruled out of the qualifier in Des Moines, Iowa, because they were deemed close contacts of the coach.

Melbourne skater Heath revealed on social media that she had tested positive. The identity of the other skater to test positive was still unclear.

“My understanding is the 13-year-old is very well supported by her sport and also … by her parents or a parent over there,” Australia’s Olympic Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman told reporters on the Gold Coast on Monday.

“No one is showing severe symptoms, which is excellent, but it’s obviously unfortunate for them to have that experience going into a qualifying event.”

Australia’s top-ranked female skateboarder Poppy Olsen said a number of skaters in the group would no longer be able to qualify for the park skating at Tokyo because the Iowa event was their last chance.

“They’re pretty devastated because myself (and) another member, Keegan Palmer, we were the only two people that were really officially locked in to go to the Olympics,” she told ABC radio.

“Everyone else, this was their last shot to get in so … it’s pretty devastating for those girls.”

Olsen added that most of the team members had only had one vaccine shot in Australia before traveling and had planned to get a second one in the United States.

“It was pretty difficult for us to get the vaccine in the first place … I think we all knew the challenges and wanted to compete at this competition anyway, especially the people who really needed this competition as the last event to get points,” she said.

Australia started vaccinating Olympic athletes for the July 23-Aug. 8 Games two weeks ago after the national Olympic committee secured approval for priority access to vaccines.

Chesterman said the AOC did not have time to give the skateboarders two Pfizer shots before they left Australia to compete.

“The plan was always to get a second jab over in the United States,” he added.

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