POLAND have withdrawn their entire 4x400m men’s relay squad after positive Covid-19 tests.
And in a further concern for organisers, Belgian hurdler Eline Berings was shocked to discover she had tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday despite showing no symptoms.
The Arena Torun is hosting the European Athletics Indoor Championships this weekendCredit: EPA
The host nation will not have representatives in the penultimate event of the final day of the European Indoor Championships in Torun.
The withdrawal was confirmed on Twitter by the Polish Athletics Association but it is not known yet which members of the side have contracted the killer virus.
Former British sprinter Jeanette Kwakye, who is the BBC’s mixed-zone reporter on duty this weekend, claimed on her account: “Three of the Polish men 4x400m have tested positive for Covid. They’ve withdrawn the whole team.”
Kwakye later clarified on live TV that it was TWO not three members of the side had tested positive
For the home fans watching on TV, this was supposed to be the highlight of the three-day championship.
Three years ago in Birmingham, the quartet of Karol Zalewski, Rafal Omelko, Lukasz Krawczuk and Jakub Krzewina shocked the United States with an indoor world record display of 3:01.77 at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Certainly the Polish runners were favourites for this relay event and their absence later this afternoon will have improved Britain’s chances of winning the gold.
Four of the six eligible Brits for this event – Joe Brier, Efe Okoro, Tom Somers, Owen Smith, Lee Thompson and James Williams – will line-up against Belgium, Italy, Holland and the Czech Republic.
CASINO SIGN UP OFFER: CLAIM UP TO £800 IN CASINO BONUS CASH
Berings, the 2009 European Indoor champion in the 60m hurdles, revealed on social media that she would not be taking part in the semi-finals.
The 34-year-old tweeted: “Devastated. No semi-final for me…apparently I tested positive on Covid yesterday. I don’t think I need to explain how devastated I am…”
Denise Lewis, the 2000 Olympic heptathlon champion, said: “It’s a little unsettling. From what I gather, there’s not much internal knowledge within the arena.
“No-one is aware of it. So it’s all coming through socials. We are still waiting for all the confirmations.
“It is worrying. Sitting here, I’d be thinking: ‘Wow, are we going to get any more cases?’ It’s difficult.
“But there was always going to be risk. You are bringing a lot of people together in a short space of time. I know they have all done their best and they are following the protocols.
“But it is a tiny warm-up area with over 700 athletes as we said. More than we would ordinarily see at these championships. It’s very difficult.”
Source: Athletics - thesun.co.uk