Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been accused of having 'double standards' by a two-time Olympian after NRL players were granted exemptions to enter the state.
As a result of the coronavirus outbreak in Greater Sydney, Queensland has once again shut its border to NSW - but has allowed Sydney-based NRL teams in as the league seeks to continue competition.
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While this has been a common occurrence between both the NRL and AFL since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, long-distance runner Eloise Wellings fired up after eight Olympic track and field athletes were denied permission to join Australian team's bubble in Cairns.
The state government has allowed nine NRL teams into the state, where they will compete in three separate bubble to see out the regular season.
Wellings, who represented Australia at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, did not make the team for the upcoming Tokyo Games but nonetheless said the situation was 'unfair' in a post on Instagram.
“Seems like double standards to me,” she wrote 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.”
Athletes have been exempted from rules in NSW preventing residents in lockdown from travelling beyond 10 kilometres from home so they can continue to train.
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Athletics Australia reportedly applied for the eight athletes to be granted an exemption to enter Queensland, but were knocked back by the state government.
The move was met with a degree of confusion from 400m runner Anneliese Rubie, who said it was a shame they would not be able to properly prepare with their teammates.
“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,” Rubie said.
“I don’t think many people know about the situation that we are in.
“Even our fellow athletes 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.”
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