The organisers of the 2021 World Athletics Relay Championships in Silesia, Poland suffered a setback as Athletics Australia (AA) confirmed on Sunday it is withdrawing its team for the May 1-2 event due to Covid-19 challenges. A statement issued on AA’s website stated: “The decision was made in light of the Covid-19 situation in Poland and greater Europe, with the safety and wellbeing of Australian participants at the forefront of the decision-making process.” Athletics Australia CEO Darren Gocher said that, while the withdrawal is disappointing for athletes, a thorough process had been undertaken to consider all associated risks with travelling to Poland and the quarantine requirements on their return to Australia.
“It is always disappointing to withdraw a team from a major event. However, we believe the decision is in the best interest of the health and safety of our athletes, staff and coaches,” said Gocher.
“We acknowledge the work World Athletics is doing in attempting to hold a safe event ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. However, after seeking the advice of medical professionals and considering health risks, current government advice and international travel and the need to quarantine upon return to Australia, it was decided it is not viable or safe to travel to Poland for this event,” Gocher further said.
To compensate for the loss of competition to its athletes, AA is planning to host relay-specific events in June with the support of Oceania Athletics, so that Australia’s relay teams can attempt the qualifying standards needed to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in July.
India, meanwhile, will send a 20-member-strong contingent to the World Athletics Relay Championships, which has the likes of sprinters Dutee Chand and Hima Das, among others.