In order to practice and play in Victoria, professional players must acquire their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by October 15 and their second dose by November 26.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday that in order to continue working on site, all approved personnel in Melbourne and regional Victoria would need to be vaccinated by those deadlines.
“Professional or high-performance sportsperson, workers who support the safe operation of that person’s professional sport, and public broadcast professionals necessary for broadcasting the professional sport,” according to Victoria’s vast list of allowed workers.
Andrews responded on Friday afternoon, “Yes, it does (apply to professional athletes).”
“I believe there will be a talk with the AFL, for example, where the AFL will be reminded, on behalf of all their clubs, that if you want to return to pre-season training in a month or so, you will need to be double-vaccinated as an authorised worker.
“Even if we get to 80% (double-dosed) and the authorisations are gone, the mandate, the regulation, and the Chief Health Officer directive will remain in existence because cases will still be an issue.”
The AFL announced that the vaccination requirement would apply to Victorian AFL/AFLW players and personnel, as well as “a small number of additional employees in the AFL sector.”
“The AFL is awaiting formal Government guidance on next steps, and in the meantime, the AFL will engage with clubs, the AFLPA, and the broader AFL industry to ensure we are prepared for this significant shift, including the logistics of proof of vaccination,” the AFL said in a statement.
“More broadly, the AFL continues to work with clubs, the AFLPA, and the broader AFL industry in the coming weeks to finalize and announce its own vaccination policy for all (AFL) and AFLW teams, players, and employees nationally.”
Teams in the AFL begin their staggered returns in November, while the AFLW is presently in pre-season.
Several AFL and AFLW players have shared photos of their vaccines on social media, and the Western Bulldogs’ whole AFL squad has received their first dosage.
Melbourne’s A-League Men and Women teams are in pre-season training ahead of their respective season starts on November 19 and December 3, respectively.
“Following a thorough education program delivered with the APL, the clubs’ vaccination rates have been exceptionally high to date,” a PFA representative said.
Meanwhile, the NBL and WNBL will begin play in November.
More than 90% of the players and staff at the Melbourne Rebels, who begin pre-season next week, have been double-vaccinated or are awaiting their second dosage.
The Melbourne Storm of the National Rugby League have likewise strongly pushed its players to be vaccinated before returning for pre-season in November and December.
Every state cricketer in Victoria has had at least one vaccination, and Cricket Australia (CA) has stated that “virtually every single professional player” in the country will be fully vaccinated by the end of this month.
Approximately 98 percent of Australia’s domestic cricketers have received their first dose, with 82 percent having received all three doses.
Every male and female cricketer on a national contract is properly immunized.
Any CA employee traveling internationally must be vaccinated, making it virtually mandatory for support personnel as well as any player seeking to represent their country.
There are currently no required coronavirus vaccination rules in place in any of Australia’s main athletic leagues.
The NBL’s New Zealand Breakers and Illawarra Hawks, on the other hand, released Tai Webster and Travis Trice when they refused to take the vaccine.