Australia

Kangaroos’ Jaidyn Stephenson apologises for saying media ‘overplays’ COVID

North Melbourne footballer Jaidyn Stephenson has apologised for comments he made in a fan Q&A on Instagram where he said he thought the media overplayed the COVID pandemic.

Stephenson was responding to questions via video message, and when asked about his thoughts on COVID-19 vaccinations, he replied:

“OK, pretty topical, I don’t think some will like this answer, but I think the media overplays it a lot.

“If there’s no media than I don’t think COVID is such a big thing. It’s just my opinion, I don’t want any replies.”

The AFL season has been greatly disrupted for the second straight year due to the ongoing COVID situation in various states, with games being moved on short notice and teams shifted interstate ahead of a series of restrictions and lockdowns.

The 2020 season was completed only after moving the entire league to Queensland with teams staying in hubs.  

On Wednesday, large parts of NSW had a lockdown extended for two weeks amid a surge in COVID cases, while authorities in Victoria are monitoring numbers after a series of new cases emerged this week.

Stephenson later removed the message from his account, and issued an apology.

“I apologise for my comments regarding the COVID situation,” he posted.

“I’m sincerely sorry for any angst I’ve caused with my comments and endeavour to further educate myself on this topic.”

Stephenson, 22, who won the 2018 Rising Star award while at Collingwood, was traded to the Kangaroos at the end of last season.

He has had a mixed year in 2021, but won plaudits for his match-winning effort in North Melbourne’s win on the road against West Coast in Perth on Monday night.

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