Olympic qualifying and preparation tests in Tokyo have been postponed or canceled worldwide, but Shooting Australia is continuing its final qualifications in Sydney and Adelaide this week, claiming that competition can be organized with athletes who maintain a safe social distance each other and officials.
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SA confirmed on Wednesday that it had canceled its flagship Shooting Australia Open tournament at Cecil Park in west Sydney this weekend, but would instead host exclusive events for competitors still eligible for selection to the Australian Olympic team in the pistol, rifle and shotgun categories.
SA CEO Luke van Kempen defended the decision to hold the final qualifying stage, saying the organization had conferred with the New South Wales government, the NSW Office of Sport, the Olympic Committee Australian, the Australian Institute of Sport and medical experts and consulted athletes through their heads.
Only 54 athletes had Minimum Qualification Scores (MQS) and could compete on both sites – the rifle discipline will take place in Adelaide and the pistol and shotgun in Sydney – but there should be fewer participants than that because the Tokyo Olympic aspirants need only have fired in three of the four Tokyo qualification events. “Our sport can be practiced while maintaining a safe social distance from other competitors and officials.
Several guidelines will be implemented to allow this practice, and all athletes and officials will be well educated on these issues before their respective events, said van Kempen. With the conclusion of three events, we predicted a few weeks ago that MQS athletes would elect do not to attend the final nomination due to their classification on the qualification dashboard.
If there is an MQS athlete who does not wish to participate this week, there is, as indicated under Mitigating circumstances in the nomination criteria, the provision allowing the selectors to the absence of athlete concerning the nomination of AOC athletes for the Olympic Team 2020 selection.
We see all of these other sports across the country canceling or postponing their events. We do not understand why our federation puts us or our athletes in danger, the hope of Tokyo, which asked to remain anonymous, when it was contacted Wednesday before the board of directors of the SA announces the qualification. There was no consultation with the athletes. We are simply told that if you signed up and want to go to Tokyo, you introduce yourself. It’s not going so well.
There is a reason why all these other sports cancel or postpone these events. They are concerned about the risk. I also understand their situation. I just think it could have been better managed. Athletes come from all over the country for this event. Former Olympic gold medalist Russell Mark said SA was in a difficult position, but also questioned whether the event should continue.
Skeet shooter Frank Morris will be unable to participate in Sydney as he had to isolate himself for two weeks after returning home after a business trip to Hawaii. Morris is ranked fourth in the Games nominations after three rounds, but he is too far behind Paul Adams, first, who should secure the spot for the men’s skeet.