COVID cases interrupt ISA Games; contestants shun opening ceremony
With the clock counting down to the Olympics - 23rd July if you're wondering - Fernando Aguerre of the International Surfing Association began to push his advantage.
It's a funny old business, but in the world of surf administration, the Wozzle has the best surfers in the world while the ISA has the Olympic connections.
To avoid being a farce, the ISA and Woz reached an agreement whereby Woz surfers would fill the majority of Olympic places with the empty spots taken by lesser countries qualifying through the Byzantine ISA system. The qualification route ends at the ISA Games, currently being held in El Salvador.
However, and here's where it gets murky, despite the Woz surfers having already qualified, Aguerre ordered their presence in El Salvador - big names equals big crowd equals happy sponsors.
So from Rottnest, the Oz team....sorry, the Irukandjis, flew home, packed their duds, and hopped a flight to El Salvador, and into a COVID mess.
For two days prior to the Games starting on May 29th, officials tested 564 competitors with 28 returning positive tests. The cases were spread across 20 teams.
Upon re-testing the 28 positive cases, 10 athletes were cleared while 18 went into quarantine.
Upon re-re-testing the 18 positive cases, 11 were cleared while 7 stayed in quarantine.
Obviously digging the downwards trend, the ISA today released this statement: "...the ISA has implemented a policy to consider an appeal for reintegration into the competition for any athlete or official testing negative, on the condition that the individual can produce another negative PCR test prior to re-entering the Event."
In short, they'll keep testing till they come up negative.
Meanwhile, the Irukandjis stood up Aguerre at the Opening Ceremony and, according to a social media post, are "are self-isolating amidst the news of active Covid cases in and around the World Surfing Games."