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COVID-19 test requirements for cross-country runners in Leon County may limit participants

Posted at 5:29 PM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 17:29:26-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The future of the Florida State University Invitational hangs in the balance for more than 1,000 cross country athletes waiting on upcoming COVID-19 test results.

Leon County commissioners are requiring both high school and college runners to be tested before competing next Saturday.

High school athletes are the most impacted, but soon the entire county could feel the economic impact.

"We worked very hard to get that meet here, as a county," said Leon County Schools Athletics Director Scott Hansen.

After all the hard work Hansen says high school athletes likely won't be racing in the FSU Invitational on October 3 because they can't get a 72-hour rapid test done.

"To put one blanket, 'everyone must be tested' is very difficult," Hansen said.

The cost would amount to approximately $30,000, but Hansen says it's more than just about money.

He says it doesn't make sense that commissioners are instilling college-level rules to high school-level athletes.

"This plan is coming from the ACC, from a college-level where they're over 18," said Hansen. "We're talking about 14, 15, 16-year-olds that are still under their parent's control. They don't have the right to get their own tests done. And they're coming from all over. Some areas are not testing unless they're symptomatic."

Kerri Post with Visit Tallahassee says the county understands what this means and the consequences to it, but they believe it's for people's safety.

"Certainly we do recognize that because of that, some teams and athletes will not be able to compete because of this requirement of right now, for this event, that's how this is," Post said.

Post says the cross country championship season alone brings in about $5 million to Leon County.

The fewer meets held here, Post admits, the less money.

"Events being canceled would absolutely impact the $5 million that's anticipated for a typical cross country season," said Post.

Leon County hosts the Florida High School State Championships for Cross Country in November. Hansen worries if commissioners don't take away this testing mandate it won't just be cross country athletes impacted.

"If that were to happen, we'd also probably lose the football state championships in December because of the optics of it," Hansen said. "We can't do one then we can't do the other."

Two things could still happen.

At Tuesday's upcoming meeting, county commissioners could vote to take away that testing mandate after influence with the governor's reopening into Phase Three.

Also, at the meeting on Oct. 13, when they check back with how the races went they could alter testing regulations.

Global Coronavirus Tracker:

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.