Australia gets late reprieve, returns to mixed doubles curling competition at Games

Australia's Tahli Gill, directs her team mate, during the mixed doubles match against Norway, at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Beijing. (Nariman El-Mofty/AP)

BEIJING -- The Australian mixed doubles curling team was back in the Beijing Games after getting a "late reprieve" Sunday before their round-robin games against Switzerland and Canada.

Earlier in the day, the Australian Olympic Committee said Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt had pulled out of the competition after Gill returned a series of positive COVID-19 tests.

However, the AOC later said the duo was allowed to return to competition following an urgent meeting of the Medical Expert Panel (MEP) in Beijing.

The committee said the AOC received an email from the Chinese Public Health System advising that the pair can continue under the "close contact provisions.''

The MEP examined Gill's CT values following PCR testing over the past 24 hours and determined that they fell into an acceptable range, the AOC said in a statement.

Gill contracted COVID-19 before the Games. Ongoing testing alternated between negative and positive.

She had been allowed to compete under the close contact arrangements after discussions with the IOC and Games organizers.

Gill and Hewitt were scheduled to close their round-robin schedule against Canada's John Morris and Rachel Homan on Sunday night.

At first, attempts to return Gill to competition were rebuffed by the IOC and health authorities, Australian chef de mission Geoff Lipshut said, noting the team made the case that she was at the end of the infection cycle.

After their return was confirmed, Lipshut said the players were "extremely excited'' to resume competition.

"We are thrilled for Tahli and Dean and I am delighted that our headquarters team continued pressing her case after earlier advice that the pair could no longer competed,'' he said.

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