Australia bans public from athletes base due to coronavirus


MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian authorities have banned the public from the national sports institute in Canberra as part of efforts to reduce the risk of athletes contracting the coronavirus in the leadup to the Tokyo Olympics.

The curbs at the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) campus in Canberra start from Wednesday, chief executive Peter Conde said.

“We don’t underestimate the value of the AIS campus to the community, particularly Canberra’s community, and we have every intention of resuming business as usual when we see it appropriate,” Conde said in a statement on Tuesday.

“However, with preparations continuing for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics later this year, we are doing everything we can to support Australia’s athletes, coaches and sports to minimize any disruption to their training.

“Our Australian athletes have been training much of their lives for this opportunity to represent their country and we thank the community for their understanding in these uncertain times.”

Australia’s major sports have banned fans from stadiums in the wake of a government advisory discouraging gatherings of 500 or more people on Monday.

Organizers have said the Tokyo Games will go ahead as planned from July 24 but the event has been thrown into doubt by the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 160,000 and killed over 7,000 people worldwide.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford