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Seven Australians entered in Monaco DL

Stewart McSweyn and Ryan Gregson will headline a seven-strong Australian contingent in Monaco this weekend at the biggest track and field meet since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the reservations of governing body Athletics Australia (AA), the athletes received permission from the federal government to head to Europe for the delayed start of the full Diamond League season.

Distance runners Ryan and Genevieve Gregson, McSweyn and Matthew Ramsden – all of whom are coached by Nic Bideau – will undergo COVID-19 tests at their base in England on Tuesday and again in Monaco on Thursday before getting the green light to run.

“They are professional athletes, they’re trying to be at the top of their game and if there are events on, then they want to be in them,” Bideau told AAP.

“They get paid by Nike to run in these sorts of events and if they don’t run they will suffer financially.

“They’re training hard for the Olympic Games next year and they’re trying to get themselves in a position to contend.

“It’s not easy to do that if you stay a whole year out of elite competition.”

The other Australians on the start lists for the Monaco Diamond League meet on Friday night (early Saturday AEST) are 800m duo Joseph Deng and Peter Bol and 5000m star Jessica Hull.

AA chief executive Darren Gocher said the athletes would not be covered by the organisation’s travel insurance policy.

“The recommendation is for athletes not to travel at this time,” Gocher told AAP.

“The welfare of the athletes is the prime consideration in our decision making.

“However we respect the athletes’ rights to independently make a different decision.”

If all goes to plan, Bideau’s group will stay in Europe to compete in other meets, although the Stockholm Diamond League on August 23 is more problematic due to the high number of coronavirus cases in Sweden.

“You can get to Sweden, but if you’re based in England you’ll have to quarantine unless you get special permission, which the British athletes have already got from the government,” Bideau said.

“Let’s just see what happens in Monaco.

“If it all goes smoothly, that’s the first thing.

“It’s one of the best places in the world to run and they are chasing some unbelievable performances there.

“They’re going for the world record in the men’s 5000m and every year it’s the fastest 1500 in the world.

“We want to be involved in that.”

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