Australian Medical Association President Says NRL’s Goal To Have Crowds In July Is ‘Absurd And Dangerous’
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) released a statement, calling on the NRL to abandon its goal of having crowds in stadiums as soon as July, labelling it as ‘absurd and dangerous’.
With the NRL set to resume its competition in closed venues this weekend, becoming the first major Australian sporting league to resume competition following the COVID-19 shutdown, Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) Chairman, Peter V’landys, on Monday raised the idea of a limited number of fans being allowed back into stadiums by July.
V’landys said the NRL’s plan would respect government and expert health advice and would be dependent on the continued decreased of case numbers of COVID-19.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) president, Tony Bartone, warned in a statement that July would be too soon to think about making a change.
“Put bluntly, this absurd and dangerous idea belongs in the sin bin,” Bartone said.
“The NRL should be satisfied that it has its competition back in action, but it is unfair and unwise to put the health of the game’s fans at risk.
“They must first monitor the health and safety of the players and officials who will be involved in the thick of the on-field action.
“Australians have done exceptionally well in flattening the COVID-19 curve, and we are not too far away from relaxing more restrictions.
“Now is not the time for sporting codes to be considering having crowds at games.
“They must wait until the medical experts advise that it is absolutely safe to do so, and that will not be as early as July.
“Decisions on the safety of holding mass gatherings should be made by medical experts in consultation with the National Cabinet, not by rugby league administrators.
“The AFL and other sporting codes are adopting the right approach, which is to wait for the expert medical advice before allowing crowds back to watch games.
“We have to be consistent in our public health messaging,” he said.
Following V’landys comments, the NSW and Queensland Governments responded by saying it was too soon to consider any such plan, although they would be open to discussions at some stage in the future.