AFL In Constant Battle With COVID-19 Border Closures

he AFL is set to relocate following the evolving COVID-19 situation in Melbourne and Adelaide.

The move interstate is proving to get more complicated as from 1am Friday, July 23, Queensland will close its border to all of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria as they enter prolonged weeks of lockdown.

Sports journalist and chief AFL writer for The Age, Jake Niall, reports: “382 past and present AFL players used psychologists and psychiatrists from the AFL Players Association to deal with mental wellbeing over the last 12 months.”

The decision to move the team’s interstate has come due to more lockdown restrictions in Melbourne and Adelaide, followed by several players and coaches forced into self-isolation after being exposed to Tier 1, 2 and 3 exposure sites.

Multiple clubs have been forced to sit out players and some staff for rounds 18, 19 and potentially 20.

This has come as Great Western Sydney Giants (GWS) star forward Toby Green, Sydney Swans Callum Mills, and St Kilda’s Rowan Marshall all attended the rugby test match between Australia and France at AAMI Park and has since been deemed a Tier 1 exposure site.

Less than an hour before round 18, between GWS and Sydney, 15 players and staff were forced into a 14-day isolation period from July 13 and will be unavailable for their respective round 19 fixture.

Following the decision to relocate, Adelaide and Port Adelaide have relocated to Melbourne for an indefinite period after South Australia was forced into a 7-day lockdown.

The two scheduled AFL games at Adelaide oval, between Port Adelaide and Collingwood, and Adelaide and Hawthorn, are believed to occur at Marvel Stadium.

The AFL has told them they could be in Victoria for up to a month at this stage.

An AFL supplementary protocol has been in place for all Victorian teams from midday July 15.

In a statement, AFL executive general manager for clubs and broadcasting, Travis Alud, said: “On behalf of the AFL I would like to thank the respective State Governments, each club, players, the AFLPA, families, umpires, broadcast partners, venues and all football fans for their continued patience and understanding as we all continue to navigate the pandemic.”

Essendon, Sydney Swans, Freemantle Dockers and GWS Giants have relocated to their respective hubs in Queensland.

However, this move has proven difficult due to Queensland now hard closing its borders to NSW and Victoria.