Swimming-Launch of new Australian pro league postponed
SYDNEY (Reuters) - The new Australian professional swimming league announced just before the Tokyo Olympics has been forced to postpone the start of its inaugural season because of the third wave of COVID-19 in the country.
The Australian Swimming League (ASL) had been scheduled to launch in October but will now not start until the early part of 2022 because of the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"While it's not a decision we wanted to make, it's the responsible decision," chief executive Stuart Coventry said in a statement on Wednesday.
"While we are disappointed to delay our plans, what has been really pleasing is the overwhelmingly positive response the ASL has received since the league was unveiled last month. We look forward to getting off the blocks in 2022."
The ASL, a joint venture between a private company and Swimming Australia, would have been looking to ride the wave of Australian success in the Tokyo Olympics pool.
The Dolphins national team won a record nine golds and 20 medals overall in Tokyo with Emma McKeon becoming the first woman swimmer to win seven medals in a single Games.
The ASL will be run on a franchise model with team members ranging from world class athletes to promising juniors all selected in an annual draft.
It will take place over a number of weeks at venues around the country with prize money awarded to winners.
"The ASL is absolutely fantastic news for Australian swimming," national head coach Rohan Taylor said when the league was announced in July.
"From a coaching perspective, an annual professional league will offer regular elite competition to drive performance outcomes and provide a vital opportunity for Australia's best emerging talent to compete against our finest swimmers."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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