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Australia grand prix meet scrapped due to flu fears

A swimming event in Melbourne has been cancelled due to fears about the H1N1 influenza virus.

The Telstra Grand Prix, a mixed short and long-course event scheduled for June 20-21, had been cancelled in the best interests of the swimmers, Kevin Neil, CEO of Swimming Australia, said in a statement today.

The announcement came a day after an entire state rugby league team were quarantined after one of their players contracted the virus.

"Swimming Australia has a duty of care in relation to our athletes, as well as ensuring we give them the best chance possible to prepare for the World Championships in Rome," said Neil.

"It is a regrettable decision to have to make, yet one that we have made with all the information available."

Roughly half of Australia's squad for the world championships in Rome this year had been expected to compete at the Melbourne event, Swimming Australia spokesman Lachlan Searle said by telephone.

Flu cases in the southern state of Victoria, where Melbourne is the capital city, have soared in recent weeks and prompted authorities in neighbouring states and Asian countries to discourage travel there.

Of Australia's 1,200 recorded cases, more than 1,000 had been in Victoria alone, the state's health authority said yesterday.

The H1N1 flu has infected nearly 22,000 people in 69 countries and killed 125, according to the World Health Organisation.


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