'So sad': Swimmers sent home from Olympics over 'absurd' admin error

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Seen right, a Polish swimmer says goodbye to a teammate after being forced to return home from Tokyo.
Six swimmers had to return home after Poland sent too many competitors to Tokyo. Pic: Getty/Twitter

The Olympic dreams of six Polish swimmers have been dashed after an embarrassing admin error saw them sent home from Tokyo in shock.

The swimmers had to return from Japan even before the start of the Olympics after the Polish Swimming Federation (PZP) sent too many athletes because of an administrative error.

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Alicja Tchórz, Bartosz Piszczorowicz, Aleksandra Polańska, Mateusz Chowaniec, Dominika Kossakowska and Jan Hołub returned to Poland on Sunday, before threatening legal action and calling for the head of the PZP to resign over the incident.

The group were all originally named to the Polish team as relay-only swimmers, and travelled to Tokyo as part of a 23-strong Polish contingent.

However, shortly after arriving they were told they had to turn around and return home, with Polish media posting a video from one of the swimmers of their emotional goodbye to teammates.

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"I would like to express my great regret, sadness and bitterness at the situation," PZP director Pawel Slominski said in a statement.

Slominski admitted the mistake but said it had been motivated by a desire to "allow as many athletes and coaches as possible to take part".

One of the six, Alicja Tchorz, wrote a post on Facebook attacking the "incompetence" of the PZP, saying they had "misunderstood the rules".

"Imagine that you sacrifice five years of your life and... your sacrifice results in a total flop," said Tchorz, who took part in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

Seen here, Polish swimmer Alicja Tchórz looks up at the clock after a race.
Alicja Tchórz was one of the six Polish swimmers whose dreams of competing in the Tokyo Games were crushed. Pic: Getty

In another post on Instagram, fellow swimmer Chowaniec said:: "This is an absurd situation that should never have happened."

Poland's culture and sports ministry urged the PZP president "to immediately submit explanations" over the incident.

Several Polish swimmers signed an open letter to the president of the Polish Swimming Federation, calling for the organisation’s entire board to resign immediately over the situation.

"The actions of the Association led to an unprecedented event in the history of Polish sport," reads the letter.

"In addition, Polish swimming – both in the eyes of the public and potential sponsors – has been exposed as a laughing stock. and it will have a glaring effect on all competitors who compete in the white and red colors on a daily basis.

"We appeal to the president and the entire board to resign immediately."

Tokyo Games rocked by drama

It's just the latest drama to rock the Olympics days before the Games in Tokyo are set to get underway.

A member of the USA's female gymnastics team has been forced into isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 at an Olympic training camp.

The teenage female artistic gymnast, named as reserve team member Kara Eaker, becomes the first American athlete to test positive at the Games, with a "close contact" teammate also isolating as a result. 

The pair are part of the same team as USA superstar Simone Biles, who moved to the Olympic Village with the rest of the team on Monday.

Pictured here, the women's USA gymnastics team for the Tokyo Games.
One member of the USA gymnastics team has tested positive for Covid-19 and another is also self-isolating. Pic: Getty

It comes as Tokyo's Olympic Village was hit by a fourth coronavirus case on Monday, and major sponsor Toyota claiming it would not run any Games-related TV ads as the event struggles for support just days before the opening ceremony.

A Czech beach volleyball player became the fourth case and the third infected athlete in the Village, where thousands of competitors are living in a biosecure "bubble".

Organisers insisted the Village was safe despite the coronavirus diagnosis for Czech beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic, which follows positive tests from two South African footballers and a video analyst.

Twenty-one members of the South African men's football contingent are in isolation after being named as close contacts, disrupting preparations for their opening game on Thursday against Japan.

Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya earlier said, before the latest cases came to light, that there had been 61 positive cases connected with the Games so far - a tiny fraction of the thousands of tests carried out.

"The IOC (International Olympic Committee) and Tokyo 2020 are absolutely clear that the Olympic Village is a safe place to stay," Takaya said.

Athletes are tested daily at the Olympics, where they are also told to observe social distancing and wear masks unless they are competing, eating or sleeping.

with agencies

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