Australia pulls out of athletics relay championships due to COVID-19


MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Athletics Australia said they will not send athletes to next month's World Athletics Relay Championships in Poland due to the COVID-19 situation, a decision which may place their hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in doubt.

The decision was made "in light of the COVID-19 situation in Poland and greater Europe, with the safety and wellbeing of Australian participants at the forefront," AA said.

"It is always disappointing to withdraw a team from a major event however we believe the decision is in the best interest of the health and safety of our athletes, staff and coaches,” AA Chief Executive Darren Gocher said in a statement.

AA said it would look to host "relay-specific events" in June with the support of Oceania Athletics, so that Australia’s relay teams could attempt to meet qualifying standards for the Tokyo Games, which start on July 23.

Australia hope to enter men's and women's teams in the 4x100 metres and 4x400 relays at the Olympics but are yet to qualify.

The top eight placed nations at the May 1-2 World Athletics Relays in Silesia qualify for Tokyo if they have not already qualified through the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

Any remaining places are allocated according to World Athletics' rankings at June 29.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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