The AFL season is delicately poised after eight clubs were found to have had players or staff members attend Victorian coronavirus exposure sites in recent days.
All of the players and staff members have since undergone a Covid-19 test and returned a negative result. Essendon, Collingwood, GWS, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, St Kilda, Sydney and the Western Bulldogs have all been caught up in the drama.
Some of the players and staff involved were in attendance at last Tuesday’s Wallabies match against France at AAMI Park. The rugby Test has been upgraded to a tier-one exposure site since some teams – the Bombers, Giants, Kangaroos, Swans and Bulldogs – arrived in Queensland on Thursday.
The AFL has notified the Queensland government and said “a number” of players and staff are classified as tier-one, which enforces a mandatory 14-day quarantine period regardless of test results.
But the majority of rugby attendees from the AFL clubs are classified as tier-three, which only requires them to monitor for symptoms and get tested if they feel unwell.
The developments are the latest headaches for the AFL part of the way through round 18. At this stage, all games will proceed as scheduled this weekend.
“The occurrences of the last few days show how volatile the pandemic continues to be in the community – it only respects discipline,” AFL general manager of football, Andrew Dillon, said in a statement on Saturday.
“We will continue to work closely with the relevant state governments and medical professionals and be led by their advice and ask everyone in our industry to continue to be vigilant with their movements within their current communities.
“We will continue to make the necessary decisions to best protect the competition and the wider community. We thank the continued support of all governments as we navigate through these challenging circumstances.”
North Melbourne and Essendon joined Sydney and GWS in relocating from Melbourne to Queensland as Victoria went into lockdown on Thursday. Western Bulldogs flew north earlier than first planned for Saturday’s away clash with Gold Coast.