Australian long-distance runner Eloise Wellings has called out the Queensland government for double standards by granting NRL teams exemptions but not Olympic athletes.Wellings, who has represented Australia at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics but missed out on Tokyo Games qualification, took to Instagram to express her frustration about Olympic track and field athletes not being able to join the team’s pre-Tokyo bubble in Cairns due to Sydney’s Covid-19 outbreak.
In contrast, Queensland will host nine NRL teams in three separate bubbles across the state in a bid to keep the rugby league season going.
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Wellings believes this is unfair given there are eight track and field athletes, including five-time Australian 400 metre champion Steve Solomon, hurdler Nick Hough and 400 metre runner Anneliese Rubie, unable to properly prepare for the Games because they are stuck in Sydney.
“Seems like double standards to me,” Wellings said on her Instagram stories.
“So, wait, there are 400 NRL football players and staff given special exemption to be relocated to Queensland so that the football season can carry on.
“But then there are eight Olympic track and field athletes who are just weeks away from competing for Australia at the Olympic Games but remain stuck in Sydney’s lockdown because they have not been given the same privilege of an exemption to join the athletics team bubble in Cairns for the final preparations for Tokyo.”
Athletics Australia applied for exemptions but was knocked back.
The eight Australian track and field athletes have all been vaccinated, while they are operating under the same strict Covid-19 bubble rules in Sydney as their Olympic counterparts in the team‘s Cairns-based camp.
Rubie would like to see the Sydney-based Olympians afforded the same exemptions to enter Queensland as the NRL players, staff, and families.
“I think we definitely got our hopes up when we saw the NRL teams were getting that exemption to cross the border and we thought maybe the same rule might apply to us,” said Rubie, a semi-finalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I don’t think many people know about the situation that we are in.
“Even our fellow athletes in (camp) in Cairns weren’t sure why we weren’t in camp, so we want to let people know what it is like to train for an Olympics in a lockdown.
“It would be great to be in camp in Cairns with the rest of the Athletics team, but we’ve sort of come to terms with the fact that it won’t happen.
“We had a meeting with Athletics Australia who said that we will be staying in Sydney, so we are trying to make the best of what we’ve got.”
On the plus side, the eight Australian Track and Field athletes have received an exemption to travel beyond 10km from their home for training purposes.
Rubie is grateful that she and her colleagues can train, especially when the rest of Greater Sydney is under strict restrictions.
“At least we’ve been allowed an exemption to be travel because I don’t think any of us have a track within 10km of our house,” she said.
“The availability for a lot of tracks have been closed as well, so we are having to track long distances to find a track that is open.
“Beyond the facility access, I guess being in a lockdown for every single person whether they are in and out of work, working from home or training for the Olympics, it is just a bit exhausting mentally.
“But we are all just trying to stay as positive as we can and focus on training for the Olympics.”

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