Great Britain Olympic Swimming Trials Set To Be Postponed As UK U-Turns On Mass Gatherings & Sports Events

Foto Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse 21 Dicembre 2019 Las Vegas - USA sport nuoto 2019 ISL - International Swimming League. Nella foto: PEATY Adam Photo Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse December 21, 2019 Las Vegas - USA sport swimming 2019 ISL - International Swimming League. In the picture: PEATY Adam

Great Britain’s Olympic swimming trials, set for April 14-19 in London, are heading for the same destiny as national championships are qualifiers around the world: postponement due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A decision may come as soon as Monday after British Swimming meets FINA to discuss the fate of the London round of the World Diving Series and other decisions that are expected tom follow from that.

As many of the nations top swimmers tested their form at the Edinburgh International Friday night, news came through that the UK Government had had a change of heart on mass gatherings. The nations; strategy had been to “delay” the most stringent containment measures to take account of the long-haul ahead when it came to demand on the National Health Service and avoidance of the the “fed-up” factor.

Officials fear that if lockdown happens too soon shy of peak spread of the virus, and fed-up with being contained will attempt to return to normal habits just at the worst moment possible. They also spoke of developing “herd immunity” that requires the majority of a nation to contract a virus before the virus has nowhere else to go and dies out.

However, at the end of a day that saw huge crowds gathering for the Cheltenham Gold Cup horse-racing classic an a warning from the World Health Organization (WHO) to a Europe that had become the “centre of the pandemic”, the UK Government did a swift U-Turn: mass gatherings are to be banned across the UK from next weekend.

There is as yet no specification for the size of “mass gathering” that will be affected but British Swimming and the British Olympic Association will surely have seen what has unfolded elsewhere and will surely have heeded the warnings of the WHO.

Here is why the WHO is questioning the UK’s approach:

WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told BBC Radio 4’s Today:

“We don’t know enough about the science of this virus, it hasn’t been in our population for long enough for us to know what it does in immunological terms.

“Every virus functions differently in your body and stimulates a different immunological profile. We can talk theories, but at the moment we are really facing a situation where we have got to look at action.”

Britain counts among its Olympic podium shots Adam Peaty, the Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, fellow World 4x100m medley champions Luke Greenbank, James Guy and Duncan Scott, Olympic silver medallist over 200m medley Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and some yet to make their Olympic debut, like sprinter Freya Anderson.

The British decision joins others on the list of “actions pending”, including that facing the European Swimming League (LEN) on its Continental showcase championships set for Budapest in May at a time when Hungary has closed its borders. 

In other British sports, The Premier League, Football League, Women’s Super League and Scottish Premier League have joined the global sporting shutdown. The English leagues were suspended until 3 April at least, Saturday’s Six Nations clash between Wales and Scotland was postponed, and England’s cricket series in Sri Lanka was called off. The London Marathon and The Masters in Augusta – golf’s leading tournament – were also postponed.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cautious approach to the coronavirus outbreak was, basically, wiped out by the decisions of care homes, sporting bodies and even the Queen taking matters into their own hands: Elizabeth II, the 93-year-old Monarch,  has joined the many others opting for self-isolation.

On Thursday, despite formally moving to the delay stage of the coronavirus action plan and warning that many more families would “lose loved ones before their time”, Johnson stopped short of calling for mass events to be cancelled or schools to be closed. He then faced questions about the government’s approach, which is markedly different to that of some other countries. The former health secretary Jeremy Hunt described the UK as an “outlier”.

The WHO today warned Europe to get serious and impose “aggressive measures”.  The WHO director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said all possible action should be taken:

“Not testing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not quarantine alone. Not social distancing alone. Do it all.”

Hours later, in a significant change of tack, Downing Street signalled it was preparing to stop large public events, including sports fixtures and concerts, to alleviate the pressure on police and the ambulance service.

Extraordinary Events In Swimming History:

Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Italy, France, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil and Japan have all had major meets affected by the coronavirus pandemic, while in the United States, the NCAA Championships have been cancelled and USA Swimming has imposed a 30-day suspension on all events, while Canada is considering what to do about its Olympic trials early next month. In Italy, where swimmers are struggling to maintain normal routines, can’t get to practice and in some cases find pool time, a #stopolympics campaign was launched by the Nuoto website calling on solidarity among swimming nations to recognise that Olympic preparations have been blown off course and that it would be in the interests of fairness to postpone the Games for a time of calm beyond the coronavirus crisis. 

Our coverage:

Guidance on Water and Coronavirus 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. avatar
    Ron

    Brirish Para Swimming International Meet?

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      By next weekend, I think all such events will be off… but no official word as yet… I would hope that they’re discussing it and getting ready for plan B

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