Italy's Bruno Rosetti, who competed in the heats of the fours but was forced to miss the final after testing positive for COVID-19, has been awarded a bronze medal by the IOC ©Getty Images

Italian rower Bruno Rosetti has been awarded a bronze medal by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after a positive test for COVID-19 forced him to miss the final of the men's four at Tokyo 2020.

Rosetti, who had participated in all of the heats, is the first athlete to benefit from rules put in place by the IOC which allow those who test positive for the virus to receive a medal if they are unable to compete in a final.

The 33-year-old's positive test was confirmed on the day of the final on Wednesday (July 28) and the crew of Matteo Castaldo, Marco Di Costanzo, Matteo Lodo and Giuseppe Vicino went on to finish third behind Romania and gold medallists Australia in his absence.

World Rowing had previously suggested Rosetti was not eligible to receive a medal, but the IOC said he would be given one in line with its rules.

"Athletes who participate in preliminaries of team sports get a medal [but don’t join the podium]," the IOC said.

Rosetti, still in quarantine following his positive test, said he was "very happy to receive the news of the decision of the IOC".

The Italian said he "still cannot understand" how he came to test positive for COVID-19.

The Italian quartet went on to finish third in the final of the men's four without Bruno Rosetti ©Getty Images
The Italian quartet went on to finish third in the final of the men's four without Bruno Rosetti ©Getty Images

The IOC confirmed prior to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, taking place despite the pandemic, that athletes who contract the virus would not be disqualified and would instead be listed as "did not start".

"In rowing, crew or crews unable to start the next round of the regatta due to COVID-19 will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS," the IOC's sport-specific rules for rowing state.

"In case a crew will not be able to compete due to COVID-19 in a quarterfinal, semi-final or final, the next highest ranked boat or boats from previous round/s may be brought forward to fill the vacant place. 

"This will be managed on a case by case basis and may include variations from the World Rowing progression system by the World Rowing Executive Committee."

More than 20 athletes have had to withdraw from their competition at Tokyo 2020 after testing positive for COVID-19.

At least two, including Rosetti, have returned a positive test after competing at the Games.