New Zealand athlete in isolation in Birmingham

6:09 am on 25 July 2022

One New Zealand athlete is in isolation in Birmingham days out from the Commonwealth Games but chef de mission Nigel Avery says the team is in a good position overall.

Nigel Avery speaks to media in Birmingham

Nigel Avery speaks to media in Birmingham. Photo: RNZ / Bridget Tunnicliffe

There are very few Covid protocols in Birmingham and a positive test won't necessarily rule an athlete out of competing at the Games.

New Zealand Olympic Committee chef de mission Nigel Avery said the team undertook extra testing early on to get ahead of any positive test results in Birmingham.

"So we're ahead of who we think might trip a positive test based on a historical past infection. So we've had a 14 day test, the mandatory 72 hours before you arrive in Birmingham test, and they're tested on arrival," Avery said.

"So if anybody does trip a test we know who it might be and we can show a history of their CT scores so we can say 'look they're on the up, they are past their infectious period'. The RACEG group (Results Analysis Clinical Expert Group) gets involved and we've had majority of those people come in."

Avery said one New Zealand athlete was in an isolation hotel.

"Their CT score was deemed not to be high enough to release them into general population. They are being very well supported by the New Zealand medical team.

"I've spoken to this athlete twice now ...I think he's run through the whole catalogue of of Netflix. He's asymptomatic , so it's one of those things we just have to work through."

Avery said there was a process to go through before the athlete would be cleared to compete.

"We want to make sure that the person is going to be okay. The discipline they are competing in is not massively aerobic ...we're confident in the processes they have to make sure that they're protecting all athletes."

Avery said for the last three days about 1200 people a day had been arriving into the airport.

"We understand it's quite limited numbers [of athletes who had tested positive]."

Avery said Birmingham was a very different environment to New Zealand, where even staff at Birmingham Airport were not wearing masks when ushering athletes through.

Avery said it meant that athletes had to really look after themselves.

"One of their key jobs is to arrive at the start line injury free and healthy. And by wearing a mask, if it's going to help them perform then they'll all do it. That's what we want in the villages and we're seeing that."

As for how the New Zealand team might go at these Games, Avery said there was talent across the board.

"There's class all over so we're expecting a level of success but we also see and want to support those who may not win a medal but are also successful in their own right."

The majority of New Zealand athletes have arrived and are starting to settle into the various athletes villages.

Avery said the welcoming ceremonies had been very moving.

"Some of those in the lawn bowls group were in tears. There have been spontaneous replies back either through our haka or the women's sevens team, their haka, and waiata, just incredible so the vibe in the villages are amazing and we're not full yet."

The opening ceremony is this Friday.