Australian cricketer Tahlia McGrath was allowed to compete in the Twenty20 gold medal match at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday despite her positive Covid test result being known before the start of play.
The tournament, which is being hosted in Birmingham and has its closing ceremony this evening, does not have an outright ban on competing with a known Covid infection. A case-by-case assessment is made, taking into account the health and likely infectiousness of the competitor. Playing in the fresh air at Edgbaston, McGrath, who only presented ‘mild symptoms’, was allowed to take part against India.
India’s captain Harmanpreet Kaur backed the decision: “We were OK because she wasn't very ill, so we just decided to play. We had to show the sportsman's spirit. We're happy that we didn't say no to Tahlia because that would have been very hard-hitting for her.”
Some have pointed out that McGrath would have been handling the ball while fielding, without sanitisation appearing to take place. Unusual scenes followed when she caught a player out, but had to wave away teammates from coming over to celebrate with her. She also batted and bowled, necessarily coming into closer contact with other players.
While not on the field of play, McGrath sat alone, masked. But at the end of the match once Australia’s win was sealed, she joined the huddle with her teammates to celebrate.
Australia’s Megan Schutt said: “Obviously when you’re part of a game that’s so thrilling like that, that’s all you want to do and at the end screw it, if we get Covid, so be it.”
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