This past week those in Melbourne hit lockdown… again.
From inside the world of a state that has had more lockdown days than any other part of the country (143 days vs ave. 6 days other states), the shiny novelty of lockdown has long since worn off, something many other countries surpassed long ago.
All activities were cancelled with 5 reasons to leave your home: shopping for necessary goods and services, care and caregiving, including medical care or to get a COVID-19 test, exercise, authorised work and permitted study, to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
This included all sporting activities, except for professional leagues. Little league games across all sports, right through to state-level competitions and regattas were postponed or cancelled. All professional sport was shifted elsewhere to negate the risks of the lockdown and exposure sites.
The AFL fixture which had teams set to play in Melbourne was quickly reshuffled. Melbourne-based teams flew interstate to train and were told to ‘prepare for 3 weeks’. Not knowing how long this lockdown would last.
Melbourne-based teams ended up scattered to; New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia in a bid to escape travel restrictions imposed on the whole state. Plans made by the AFL Board are to shift Round 13 in Melbourne for the Queen’s Birthday Long weekend to the SCG in Sydney.
On the first day of the snap lockdown, Western United FC and Melbourne Victory kept their spot at AAMI Park, playing in front of no crowds. The following week, as the lockdown was extended, plans were shuffled and Melbourne Victory headed up north to compete in Sydney, keeping the 2020/21 on track.
The Trans-Tasman Rugby Union competition comprising of five Australian and five New Zealand Rugby Teams was interrupted this weekend. The Chiefs versus Melbourne Rebels round was rescheduled due to the trans-Tasman bubble pause with Victoria, and the extension to the lockdown.
The game had initially been re-postponed one week with the hope of the snaplock ending, however, an extension to the lockdown meant the game was shifted to Sydney. Leichhardt Oval serving both teams as an ‘away’ oval. Rebels will remain based in Sydney for the time being.
The inaugural ‘best of three’ showdown between New South Wales and Queensland's‘ best of’ rugby League players have also been impacted. The first-round game was scheduled for Melbourne’s neutral AAMI Stadium, but due to the lockdown has been shifted to Townsville. This will mean Queensland has the ‘home advantage’, hosting two of the three games this year.
Supercars is another professional sport impacted by the lockdown. Six Victorian-based teams were moved across the border to New South Wales. This ensured the next round, mid-June, in Darwin, would not be impacted by the state-based restrictions. All teams are set to travel to Darwin for the Mid-June round.
Olympic Athletes in Victoria, all too used to COVID-19 impacting competition plans, were quickly whisked out of the state. Many athletes preparing for the Olympics in Tokyo this year, flew to other training venues across the country to ensure safety in the lead-up to the Games. Quick response and hard work on the ground from many sporting bodies ensured all athletes could continue training schedules as the games near.
For Little leagues, community groups, state-level competitions and regattas the wait is currently still on as to how long fixtures are being interrupted by the snap lockdown. Zoom training sessions are now accounting for connection between athletes and family backyards have been transformed into training venues as the lockdown continues. Athletes remain hopeful in the return to their favourite sporting venues as athletes and spectators before too long.
*note changes to COVID circumstances may have changed since the publication of this article. Please refer to your local state health advisory updates for the latest news and details.
Kelly Thompson is the newest member of the Sports journalist team. Kelly currently plays AFL for Casey Demons in the VFLW, and practices what she preaches as a HOPE (Health, Outdoor, and Physical Education) Teacher in Melbourne’s southeast.