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SA lashed over 'double quarantine' order for returning Olympians

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Premier Steven Marshall has defended a SA Health decision to force Olympians returning through Sydney to undergo a second round of quarantine, after the Australian Olympics Committee called it “cruel” and defying medical advice.

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The state government rejected AOC appeals to grant a quarantine exemption for the returning Olympians who have already undergone 14 days hotel quarantine in Sydney.

A group of 16 Olympians from SA are currently quarantining in Sydney after returning to Australia from the Tokyo Olympics.

A further 40 SA Olympians will return home at later dates.

The AOC said no other state in Australia has done this. Australian Institute of Sport chief medical officer David Hughes said the decision is “profoundly flawed”.

“To have individuals quarantined for such a lengthy period of time is in my opinion unreasonable and cannot be scientifically justified,” Hughes said in a statement.

“It poses a significant risk to the physical and mental wellbeing of the individuals concerned.”

AOC CEO Matt Carroll said he has sought exemptions on behalf of the athletes, and said national cabinet took a position that double quarantine was “unacceptable”.

“While other countries are celebrating the return of their athletes, we are subjecting ours to the most cruel and uncaring treatment,” Carroll said in a statement.

“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.

“We have received no explanation as to why our application on behalf of these athletes has been rejected.”

Australia former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said the decision was “inexplicable”.

“This decision by SA is a slap in the face to them and the athletes who competed in these games,” Coatsworth tweeted.

Premier Steven Marshall defended the decision this morning but said it was a “heartbreaking situation” for the athletes involved.

“We’ve got to make our decisions that are going to be in our state’s best interests, I don’t want to reflect on what other states are doing,” he told ABC Radio this morning.

“We made a change to our rules in South Australia following the Modbury cluster … we can’t have one set of rules for one group of people and a completely different set from for others.”

The premier said chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier had “agonised” over the decision.

“What we’re saying is there’s no sterile corridor from the New South Wales quarantine hotels to Adelaide,” Marshall said.

“[The athletes] have got to travel into the airport, get on a plane with other people who have been out and about in that community for an extended period of time – all of those people need to go into 14 days of quarantine, and so we put the rule in place.

“I regret it, I wish it didn’t have to happen, but the situation in New South Wales is very dangerous.”

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