MELBOURNE: The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has labelled the government of South Australia "cruel and uncaring" for imposing an extra two-week quarantine for athletes returning to the state from the Tokyo Games, meaning they must self-isolate for 28 days.
International arrivals to Australia must isolate for 14 days at quarantine hotels or other special facilities as part of COVID-19 restrictions.
South Australia is imposing an additional 14-day home quarantine requirement for arrivals from Australia's eastern states of Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales which are battling COVID-19 outbreaks.
The AOC said South Australia had turned down its request for an exemption from the extra quarantine period.
"While other countries are celebrating the return of their athletes, we are subjecting ours to the most cruel and uncaring treatment," AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll said in a statement on Wednesday.
"They are being punished for proudly representing their country with distinction at the Olympic Games."
An South Australia government spokesperson was unable to provide immediate comment but reiterated the state's quarantine rule.
The AOC said 56 members of the Australian Olympic team were returning to South Australia and 16 were already undergoing quarantine in the New South Wales capital Sydney.
"Not only are our Olympians fully vaccinated, but they have also been living in a highly controlled bubble in Tokyo, taking the utmost precautions - tested daily over many weeks," said Carroll.
"We have received no explanation as to why our application on behalf of these athletes has been rejected."
The Australian Institute of Sports' Chief Medical Officer David Hughes said the extra quarantine period could not be scientifically justified and posed a significant risk to the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals affected.
Through a combination of strict travel and border controls and snap lockdowns, Australia has fared better than many other developed countries during the pandemic, recording fewer than 37,000 COVID-19 cases and a death toll under 1,000.