Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips, right, said COVID-19 measures at Birmingham 2022 are "more relaxed" than the organisation had anticipated ©Getty Images

Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) chief executive Craig Phillips has said that Birmingham 2022 has had a "more relaxed approach" than previously thought towards COVID-19 protocols at the Commonwealth Games here.

Phillips also revealed the CGA plans to implement its own restrictions on the movement of its athletes prior to their competitions, aiming to minimise contact with the wider public.

However, an Organising Committee spokesperson told insidethegames that it believes it has "put in place a proportionate response to the pandemic".

Among the measures, athletes are required to produce negative test results before leaving and upon arrival in the English city.

Legal measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom have been dropped, but Phillips admitted that the CGA had expected more stringent protocols to be in place at the Games.

"The Playbook that has been produced by the Organising Committee has probably taken a more relaxed approach than we anticipated a few months ago, but one of the things we've been very conscious of is making sure as much as we can that our athletes are in a place to compete infection free at the Games," Phillips said at a media briefing.

"So we certainly will be putting in more stringent rules ourselves which makes sure competition athletes will be pretty much restricted to the Village, training venues and competition venue bubble, so the idea there is to minimise the mixing with the general population as much as we can.

"While tough measures, we think it's important because we need to keep as many people in the team infection free as we possibly can for these Games, and we certainly don't want any athlete having their performance impacted by being ill with COVID."

Commonwealth Games Australia plans to limit athletes to the Village, training and competition venues prior to their events ©ITG
Commonwealth Games Australia plans to limit athletes to the Village, training and competition venues prior to their events ©ITG

Australia's Chef de Mission Petria Thomas contrasted the measures at Birmingham 2022 with the strict protocols in place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

"Our role as a team management is to make sure that our athletes can get to the starting line and then perform at their best," Thomas said.

"There's not the same strict protocols in place as some might have experienced in Tokyo for example, so we really felt we had to go above and beyond to try and create environment to minimise the health risk to all of our team members."

Phillips added that "measures like mask wearing in indoor settings in particular [and] social distancing" also featured in the CGA's plans, and that Australian athletes would be required to depart from the Games within two days of the end of their competition, although they would enjoy fewer restrictions during that 48-hour period.

Thomas explained that athletes will have greater freedom to move around Birmingham after their competition due to the risk of infecting others being considered low.

"In that time, they will be allowed to go out of the village close to their competition finishing and before they depart," Australia's Chef de Mission said.

"We have our COVID Advisory Group that's been guiding our decisions on these types of issues, and the risk of picking up COVID in that time after their competition and before they depart and transmitting it to other people is deemed very low.

"We're conscious that while we want our team members to be able to perform at their best, we also want them to have a positive experience, and we felt that was something we could allow given the low risk as advised by our COVID Advisory Group."

A Birmingham 2022 spokesperson expressed their belief that the COVID-19 measures in place are sufficient.

Australia is set to be represented by its largest contingent of athletes at an overseas Commonwealth Games in Birmingham ©Getty Images
Australia is set to be represented by its largest contingent of athletes at an overseas Commonwealth Games in Birmingham ©Getty Images

"Throughout the last couple of years Birmingham 2022 has been monitoring the situation in regard to the pandemic and learning from other major sports events," the spokesperson told insidethegames.

"Birmingham 2022 has also been working with experts and public health specialists through a COVID-19 Advisory Group, which includes representatives from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, UK Health Security Agency, the Commonwealth Games Federation and Birmingham City Council Public Health.

"A World Health Organization COVID Mass Gathering Risk Assessment has also been undertaken and, thanks to the wide range of mitigations in place, the Games are considered to be a low risk.

"We have therefore put in place a proportionate response to the pandemic and implemented a number of mitigation measures to reduce the risks relating to COVID-19.

"Our priority remains to deliver a safe, secure and successful edition of the Commonwealth Games and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone over the next couple of weeks."

Australia is due to be represented by its largest ever team at an overseas Commonwealth Games.

It is the most successful nation in the history of the multi-sport event, and Phillips has expressed hope that it could become the first to reach 1,000 gold medals at Birmingham 2022.

This year's Commonwealth Games are due to run from July 28 until August 8.