SYDNEY – No masks. No worries. For now.
Dani Stevens won a record 14th national title in the women's discus throw on Sunday to earn her spot on the Australian team for a fourth Olympics, less than a year after fearing a career-threatening neck injury could force her out of the Tokyo Games.
With the coronavirus relatively under control in Australia, there was no sign of masks or much in the way of COVID-19 restrictions for athletes or spectators during the national championships at Sydney’s Olympic Park this week. It’ll be a different scene in Japan in just over three months when the delayed Olympics are held in a tight quarantine bubble.
The 32-year-old Stevens said she can empathize with Olympic rookies who feel they might miss out on the full experience of the games, but she thinks the honor of competing at the “most prestigious” sporting event in the world outweighs the restrictive conditions.
“We understand what the world is like at the moment. Being in a bubble — common sense says that’s what we have to do, so that’s what we have to do,” Stevens, a world champion in 2009 and runner-up in 2017, told The Associated Press. “We make decisions every day to put us in the best possible scenario to perform, and this is just one of those things that come with the territory this year.
“If you want to go to the Olympics this year, you’re just going to have to adapt.”
The initial 20 of an expected 70 track and field athletes were confirmed on the Australian Olympic team on Sunday, including Stevens, decathletes Ash Moloney and Cedric Dubler and sprinter Rohan Browning, the first Australian man since the Athens Games in 2004 to qualify for a spot in the 100 meters.
Almost half of the Australian track and field athletes already selected will be making their Olympic debut in Tokyo, which will open on July 23 after a delay of 12 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.