Queensland Lockdown Forces Quick AFL, NRL, And Super Netball Changes
outh-east Queensland’s snap COVID-19 lockdown, which is set to continue until at least Sunday, has forced Australia’s top sporting codes to make quick adjustments to their seasons and protocols to ensure they can continue competitions.
Initially, after the Queensland Government announced an initial three-day lockdown on Saturday which included the cancellation of all grassroots and professional sport, the NRL and Super Netball introduced new levels of COVID-19 protocols for their clubs.
Both of these new protocol rules were approved by the Queensland Government and resulted in both competitions being permitted to continue their seasons in Queensland despite the new lockdown.
Both the NRL and Super Netball will complete their upcoming games in Queensland without fans in attendance and increased protocols such as the use of one venue, daily testing for athletes, reduced staff, and compulsory masks for all athletes, staff, and officials not currently playing.
The NRL revealed any athlete or official who breaches the new protocols will face an immediate removal from the competition and from Queensland if they are from a non-Queensland based club.
For Super Netball, all games are currently being completed at Nissan Arena in Brisbane, while the NRL is holding all games at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Meanwhile, the AFL has made the decision to move its clubs back to Victoria following the COVID-19 lockdown in Queensland.
The league had planned to complete three games in Queensland, but has now moved all the matchups to Victoria, excluding one scheduled for Tasmania, with the clubs forced to depart Queensland under short notice via charter flights.
Netball Australia CEO, Kelly Ryan, said the many changes to the season between state-based hubs will likely see the season play out in Queensland regardless of the lockdown.
“Our teams have moved several times this year and we want to provide them with stability as the competition reaches the final rounds,” Ryan said.
“The health and wellbeing of our athletes, coaches, staff, and officials is always at the forefront of our decision-making process.
“We feel we have flexibility in our fixture to make adjustments to play out the season,” she said.
After the introduction of the stricter protocols, Australian Rugby League Commission chair, Peter V’landys, said: “I want to personally thank Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, State Government officials, and in particular, Dr Jeannette Young for allowing us to present the most stringent biosecurity protocols which when implemented will ensure there is minimal to no risk in allowing our matches to be played with no crowds.”
After moving all clubs to Victoria, AFL executive general manager of clubs and broadcasting, Travis Auld, said he was happy to be able to efficiently reschedule the three games impacted by the initial three-day lockdown.
“We thank each of the six clubs, players, venues, broadcasters, umpires, officials, and ticketing agents for their agility and collaboration this morning as we worked through rescheduling the three games and we thank respective State Governments for their ongoing support,” Auld said.
“While the pandemic will continue to challenge us, the health and safety of those in our game and the wider community remains paramount and we again thank everyone associated with the game for their continued support of the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership season,” he said.