Australia

Olympic athletes heading home after quarantine and months away

The first round of the Australian Olympic team are out of quarantine in Howard Springs and ready to head home to celebrate with their families — but there are a few roadblocks in the way.

Lockdowns and COVID-19 hotspots around the country have presented a challenge to athletes trying to head home after months away.

Olympic team members were at Darwin Airport today after leaving the Howard Springs quarantine facility, as the Top End headed into its first day of a three-day lockdown.

An event for Monday by the Australian Olympic Committee and the NT government to celebrate some of Australia’s top Olympic athletes after they left quarantine in Darwin was cancelled after a COVID case triggered a lockdown in the Darwin and Katherine regions.

Athlete Matthew Clarke said he’d been waiting for what felt like “forever” to get through quarantine procedures and then home to his family in Australia.

Matthew Clarke is one of multiple Australian Olympic athletes who have just come out of quarantine.(

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Long-distance runner Isobel Batt-Doyle said that, after three months overseas, she was excited to go home after competing in her first international competition.

“I was a bit sad not to be able to go to the opening and closing ceremonies, I missed those things that you would imagine about when going to the Olympics but hopefully we’ll have another in three years’ time.”

Olympic athletes unloading luggage from a vehicle outside Darwin Airport.
Olympic athletes have had to quarantine for 14-days after arriving in Australia.(

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Ms Batt-Doyle said although she knew this was a challenging Olympics to organise due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was still happy it went ahead.

“Going into the experience, we knew we had to be quarantined. This whole year has been pretty hectic but we’re grateful for being able to go overseas to the Olympics,” she said.

Diver Anabelle Smith said she had wanted to go home to Melbourne but the COVID pandemic had created some roadblocks, so she would head to her previous training base of South Australia.

Diver Anabelle Smith at the Darwin Airport.
Ms Smith said she would have to wait to see what happened with Melbourne COVID restrictions before she could see her family again.(

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Ms Smith said she didn’t regret heading overseas to compete.

“It was a unique experience but it was better than a lot of us anticipated,” she said.

“All coming together, after so much adversity over the year, it was special to be a part of.”


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