Victoria’s sporting clubs face race to meet vaccination mandates


Football officials say it will be up to A-League clubs to take action against their players if they do not adhere to Victorian vaccination mandates, in the wake of several high-profile players taking anti-vaccine stances on social media.

Last week the Victorian government announced that to continue to work on site, all authorised workers, including professional athletes, needed to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by October 15 and a second dose by November 26.

The A-League men’s season gets underway on November 19 and the mandate will apply to the three Melbourne clubs as well as Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, which will play in Melbourne in the first five rounds.

One high-profile Melbourne Victory player is among those who have made comments online opposing vaccinations, but the club has said all of its players have talked the matter through with club doctors, and every player from its men’s and women’s teams will adhere to the mandate.

Melbourne City’s male players will all meet the mark, while the vast majority of its women’s squad are still playing overseas or are yet to return to Melbourne.

Western United was not able to provide the relevant information before publication.

The A-League men’s season will operate under a short-term conference system for the first six rounds, with the five New South Wales teams and Wellington to play each other in New South Wales.

Problems could arise when those teams have to travel to Melbourne, but in a statement the Football Player’s Association said it was working on the issue with players.

“Following an extensive education program delivered with the APL, the club’s vaccination rates have to date been incredibly high and we continue to ensure that players have access to medical advice and expertise as required,” the statement read.

The summer of basketball will get underway in December, and executive general manager of Basketball Australia, Paul Maley, said the WNBL was ready.

“While there is no league mandate, the WNBL is a strong advocate of vaccinations and is actively encouraging all our players, coaches, staff and volunteers in the league to get their vaccination,” Maley said.

“The WNBL will adhere to state, local and venue guidelines which will make it difficult for anyone who chooses against the vaccination to participate in the upcoming season.”

The two Melbourne teams, Southside Flyers and Melbourne Boomers, will have all staff and players vaccinated in time, as will NBL side South-East Melbourne Phoenix.

The Phoenix and Melbourne United will need to meet the mandate to train but face a long wait until they can play in Melbourne, with their home court, John Cain Arena, to be out of action due to the Australian Open.

The NBL already axed one player over vaccinations, with New Zealand Breakers star Tai Webster released from his contact because of his refusal to be vaccinated.

Border closures have caused huge problems for Victoria’s men’s cricket team, but the vaccine mandate will not add to its issues.

Victoria will only be able to play New South Wales in a series of Sheffield Shield games before Christmas, with applications to quarantine and then play in other states knocked back by state governments.

The men’s squad is on track to meet the mandate anyway.

Victoria’s women’s players will be out of the state for months, taking part in the Big Bash League through October and November, with games to be played in Tasmania, Perth, Adelaide and Mackay.


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