Coronavirus Impacts Mounting
Sunday, March 15 2020 @ 07:59 am ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
As the AFL in Australia grapples with the measures needed to contain the spread of coronavirus, leagues across the world are having to deal with the same realisations. Yesterday, reports from AFL House in Melbourne suggested that the AFL is considering a range of moves.
Already, the decision to play with no crowds has been made, largely driven by the government decisions to ban crowds from attending events above 500 people. This weekend’s AFLW matches went ahead with the almost surreal quietness of empty stadiums – the only sounds coming from the players and officials on sidelines.
Thursday night’s season opener between Richmond and Carlton is still planned to go ahead without crowds. However, this might also change as early as Round 2 should the AFL act on government decisions and medical advice to bring even stronger measures into place.
Amongst some measures being considered are extra players on benches, shorter game times, faster testing at grounds to isolate players who show symptoms pre-match, during and after matches.
The AFL is also looking at the prospect of no matched at all over the period of April/May when predictions indicate a higher spread of coronavirus, and condensing the season in a rang of ways that may even include clubs playing two games a week to see all clubs play their 22 matches.
These measures are true of the flagship AFL competition, but also filter down to state, regional and local leagues.
The National Rugby League as already had it’s season thrown into disarray with New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, announcing that all arrivals from overseas face a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period, effectively meaning that players cannot come from Australia and play. The same law will impact soccer’s A-League and the Super Rugby.
These measures are having impacts across the world as well as countries brace for higher infection rates and take actions to limit the spread of the disease.
Already, AFL Europe has announced that April’s Champion’ League tournament in Amsterdam will not go ahead as planned. It is likely that many other competitions and tournaments will follow a similar path in coming days and weeks.
In France, the CNFA has immediately placed the national competition on hold indefinitely to help control the spread of the disease and protect players and fans from infection.
In the United States, the USAFL has addressed all member clubs and leagues with a detailed reponse on their website.
In a sensible and practical way, the USAFL states:
“With regard to trainings and matches, we ask that our players and clubs to use common sense. We recommend suspending or delaying team training until there is better understanding of the situation, however, this is at the discretion of each individual club.”
“It is recommended that exercising outdoors is preferable to doing so indoors (i.e. at a gym or fitness center), as you are around fewer people and contact is limited. However, if you must train indoors, it is recommended that gloves are worn, that equipment is thoroughly wiped down with disinfectant following use, and that peak hours are avoided so that contact is reduced. This article provides more information.”
“The USAFL will remain vigilant of this situation as it changes and is prepared to act in a timely manner. The USAFL community should consult the CDC and your local public health department for the most current COVID-19 information.”
Clubs or leagues who are yet to make determinations on measures for their own needs are recommended to have discussions immediately with their controlling bodies and monitor advice on coronavirus through their own government information outlets and sources or the World Health Organisation (WHO).
However, many eyes will be firmly placed on the lead set by the AFL in Australia as they come to terms with the virus as it stands today and how they react to changing situations in coming days, weeks and months.
It is too early to tell whether or not the IC20 International Cup will go ahead in Maroochydore, and other major international events world-wide will be assessed in line with information available at the time.
Any clubs or leagues that wish to give an update of their own situations are welcome to add comments to this article.