MELBOURNE, Australia -- A two-day swim meet that would have attracted top swimmers from Australia and New Zealand has been postponed indefinitely because of the increased outbreak of swine flu in Australia.
Swimming Australia said Tuesday it decided to put off the Grand Prix meet, scheduled for the weekend of June 20-21 at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, because of the increased risks and quarantine levels surrounding the swine flu outbreak. Officials said it may be rescheduled for later in the year.
The number of people affected by swine flu has risen to more than 1,000 in Australia, most of them in the state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital.
Swimming Australia chief executive Kevin Neil said postponing the event was in the best interests of the swimmers and the sport.
"Swimming Australia has a duty of care in relation to our athletes, as well as ensuring we give them the best chance possible to prepare for the world championships in Rome," Neil said. "It is a regrettable decision to have to make, yet one that we have made with all the information available."
Coach Alan Thompson said the decision was taken in the best interests of the athletes, some of whom are on the Australian team for the world championships in Rome in July 19-Aug. 2.
"Of course we would have liked to have staged the event, but I know coaches and swimmers are already planning on running time trials in their own states to simulate the racing they would have had in Melbourne," Thompson said.
"We always knew that some of the squad would not be competing due to the training and racing that's occurring in Europe and the U.S., so for the remaining members of the team they will now have plenty of time to plan for time trials or additional training," Thompson said.
It was the second sport affected by the swine flu outbreak in two days in Australia.
Two players were forced to sit out a topflight Australian rugby league match on Monday and at least nine others were quarantined after a player tested positive for swine flu, National Rugby League officials said.