BREAKING: COVID Rocks Budapest; Australia’s Lani Pallister Out Of The Women’s 800 Freestyle Final

COVID POSITIVE: Lani Pallister (right) has tested positive to COVID and will miss the 800m freestyle tonight.Pictured here with Katie Ledecky and Katie Grimes. Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

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BREAKING: COVID Rocks Budapest; Australia’s Lani Pallister Out Of The Women’s 800 Freestyle Final

COVID has rocked the World Swimming Championships and will force Australia’s emerging distance freestyle star Lani Pallister out of tonight’s 800m freestyle final against 18-time gold medallist Katie Ledecky.

FINA has confirmed to News Corp that a total of eight swimmers have so far tested positive to the coronavirus in Budapest.

The report said that names and nationalities remain confidential but Australian team officials confirmed to Julian Linden that one of them is Pallister – already a bronze medallist in the 1500m and favoured to medal again after qualifying second behind the USA’s four-time champion Katie Ledecky in the 800m.

Under the championship rules, all swimmers were tested on arrival but masks are not mandatory even though competitors are in regular close contact.

Linden reported that Pallister stood right next to Ledecky when they posed for photos after Monday’s medal presentation for the 1500m and they shared a hug in the mixed zone, where competitors meet to talk with the media.

“Lani tested positive on Thursday and has been placed in immediate isolation for at least six days,” the report said.

“An Australian team official has also tested positive and been placed in isolation, it can be revealed.

“The rest of the team have been ordered to wear face masks and report any symptoms so they can be tested immediately.

“At this stage, there have been no further positives within the Dolphins camp but head coach Rohan Taylor said team officials were not taking any chances.”

Taylor told News Corp: “We’ve been testing every person who’s felt sick, just in case.

“We’ve notified FINA and we’re following their protocols. We’re just trying to do the right thing.”

The report said that Pallister had no inkling she had contracted Covid when she swam in the 800m heats on Thursday but felt an itch in her throat when she got back to her hotel so decided to test herself.

“She feels fine but it came up positive so she rang the doctor,” Taylor said.

“I think he did four tests on her just to be sure, but they came up positive so she’s in isolation.”

Under FINA’s rules, Pallister has to miss her next race and remain in her room until she is clear, meaning she also won’t be able to travel to Barcelona with the rest of the team when they relocate to Spain on Sunday, the day after the pool swimming finishes.

News Corp reported that Pallister would remain in Budapest until July 1 because the Australian open water team has just arrived in the Hungarian capital – and her mother Janelle Pallister is one of the coaches.

Once the open water events finish, they will all travel together to France to join the rest of the team for the final training camp before next month’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“That’s the good thing, she’ll be able to get back in and build back up,” Taylor said.

“It is what it is. At the end of the day, we’ve been very fortunate until now but it’s unfortunate for Lani because she can’t race so she’s obviously devastated.”

The report said that rumours of a Covid outbreak have been swirling around the pool deck for days after foreign teams suddenly started wearing face masks again and a number of swimmers pulled out of their races without any explanation.

A men’s water polo match, between Canada and Italy, was also called off, with officials saying only that it was done for the “health and wellbeing” of all participants.

While eight swimmers have tested positive, it’s understood competitors from other sports, as well as officials and staff, have also tested positive after more than 4,000 PCR tests were conducted.