Kelly Slater Slapped With COVID+ Following Oscars, May Miss Bells
Current #2 in the WSL rankings goes down to #1 microbial nuisance.
The Bells event window starts on the 10th April and runs until the 20th. 11x World Champion and 4x Bell ringer, Kelly Slater aka ‘the GOAT’ will likely be amiss. After presenting at the Academy Awards last weekend, Gucci-clad, the GOAT has confirmed he has contracted COVID-19 over Instagram.
Per his latest IG story: “This was my gift from the Oscars”, the text overlaid on a screenshot of a positive test result issued in San Clemente. The GOAT’s positive PCR sample, collected on 31st of March and returned in the past 48 hours, means he will be asked to isolate until at least the 4th of April. If he returns a negative test after 5 days of isolation and he is not presenting with symptoms he will be allowed to roam the Hollywood hills by tomorrow.
However, given Australia’s significantly more stringent COVID-19 policy which requires all international passengers to submit a declaration of their COVID-19 health information (vaccination status and COVID-19 test result) within 72 hours before their flight, the GOAT track to Bells will be riddled with admin, lag time, brain tickles and squinting at fineprint. At the least it will be sub-optimal comp prep, at the most it may preclude him from surfing for his 5th Bells trophy.
Steph Gilmore suffered a similar fate at the start of the year at Pipe where she failed to pass the WSL’s COVID protocols at the beginning of the Pipe Pro event window. WSL COVID policy guidelines stipulate all surfers must:
- Complete COVID-19 testing prior to arrival in AUS
- Vaccinated and non-vaccinated event attendees must present a negative COVID-19 test result (PCR -72hrs, or Antigen -48hrs) to check in to the event, or recovery documentation, or return a negative Antigen test result to check in to the event.
While Steph had the potential to miss her first heat and surf in Round 2, the WSL’s SVP of Tours and Head of Competition, Jessi Miley Dyer made the policy details crystal clear: “We base our decisions on whether to run an event solely on the competitive conditions available for our athletes. In the interest of fairness, individual illnesses or injuries, however unfortunate, cannot be a factor.”
As we learned in last week’s podcast, Kelly’s Oscars appearance was not the first time he had potentially jeopardized a contest appearance to present awards for the rich and famous. At the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in 2005, Kelly flew to Sydney mid-contest for the MTV music awards, where co-presenter Anna Nicole Smith dropped her dress mid-speech causing much stir. “Going to the MTV awards during the Gold Coast contest I don’t think was the wisest choice to make,” he said in his 2005 documentary, Letting Go. The GOAT went on to win the title that year.
The WSL told Stab, “Kelly is not officially out at the moment. If that happens, the spot will be determined by Tours and Competition. Jordy (Lawler) is a possibility, but not a guarantee.”
More to come on this.
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