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New COVID-19 Lockdowns: Leagues Considering Hubs

T
he latest COVID-19 crisis across Australia, which has seen strict border lockdowns between New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland primarily, have seen the country’s top codes making moves to protect their ongoing seasons.

The AFL is reportedly “seriously considering” implementing a Melbourne hub according to The Herald Sun, which would see all teams relocated to Victoria for the next month.

This discussions comes as Victoria records zero local cases of COVID-19 while New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland all have rising numbers of local cases, with Greater Brisbane and Perth recently declared ‘orange zones’ by the Victorian Government.

Upcoming matches most likely to be relocated include the Carlton and Fremantle match in Perth and the Adelaide and Brisbane match in Adelaide next week.

After game two of the NRL’s State of Origin last night, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo addressed the current outbreak and what it means for the NRL season and the final match of the State of Origin series.

“There’s a lot going on and it’s been an incredible couple of days, you think ‘here we go again’,” Abdo told Origin Footy on Fox.

“We planned for this, we went through it together last year and we got through it and we will get through it again.

“First tonight (Sunday night), there was a lot of work to get the exemption to play and get the players up there.

“As late as an hour and a half ago we got information from the Queensland Government to send an order to everyone going to the game they had to wear masks.

“We had to get 40,000 masks to be available at the stadium just for the game to go ahead with crowds in attendance.

“We’ll get through tonight then look at the date over the last few days then will determine if the game gets played in NSW,” he said on the third Origin match of the series.

“The default is Stadium Australia.

“The game is scheduled for outside of the current lockdown period.

“If the NSW Government gets the infection rate coming down then there’s every chance we play at Stadium Australia.

“Option two is we move to a regional area of NSW like Newcastle similar to as we did with Townsville.

“The third option for us is to consider taking the game interstate again.

“There are a few factors to take into account and most of that is around monitoring the infection rate and working closely with the NSW Government.

“We’ve got round 16 starting on Thursday, the Roosters v Storm game has been relocated to Newcastle with a 50% crowd as it stands.

“The rest of the games in the lockdown area will be played without crowds and will be played out under our strict protocols like last year.

“The information and communication is going through to the clubs and the players to make sure they adhere to that.

“We will monitor the situation.

“We are looking ahead to the next couple of rounds.

“If we need exemptions to travel across the border then we will do and use charter flights accordingly,” he said.

The Suncorp Super Netball competition has been mostly affected by the postponement of the Melbourne Vixens and West Coast Fever match due to a number of players from the Melbourne side being unable to receive government exemptions to travel to Perth after visiting Sydney last week.

The postponement of the game received publicity due to the response of the Fever, who said they were “disappointed”, claiming the Vixens “refused to travel to Perth”.

In a statement, the club said: “This is not in the best interests of the competition and devastating for our club, members, sponsors and fans.”

This was met with confirmation of an investigation by Netball Australia, who committed to rescheduling the game.

“The Netball Australia board has this morning reaffirmed Netball Australia’s commitment to the safety and well-being of athletes and staff and the delivery of a full, 60-game season of Suncorp Super Netball,” Netball Australia said in a statement.

“Consistent with these priorities, the board has agreed with the recommendation of management that Netball Australia, the West Coast Fever and Melbourne Vixens work to ensure that their cancelled match, which was due to be played tomorrow (Sunday), is rescheduled.

“Discussions with all relevant parties will now begin with the aim of having the game played as soon as is safe and practical…

“The board has also confirmed that an investigation into events that occurred in the lead-up to the cancellation of Sunday’s game had now been launched.

“Netball Australia will not publicly discuss the details of these events until the investigation and subsequent report is completed,” the organisation said.

Elsewhere, Rugby Australia has confirmed the Wallabies’ first Test match against France has been moved from Sydney to Brisbane on July 7.

Rugby Australia CEO, Andy Marinos, said: “It’s never an easy decision to move a fixture… one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that we have to be able to pivot quickly.”

“Following the announcement yesterday, we were faced with yet another challenge and we knew we had to respond swiftly,” he said.

Both the NBL and the A-League, however, have managed to complete their seasons prior to the complications caused by the snap lockdowns, with both competitions wrapping up last week.