Vax mandate for pro athletes in Victoria

·3-min read

Professional athletes in Victoria will be required to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by October 15 and their second by November 26 in order to train and play.

On Friday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed all authorised workers in Melbourne and regional Victoria would need to be vaccinated by those timelines in order to continue working on site.

Victoria's extensive list of authorised workers includes "professional or high-performance sportsperson, workers that support the safe running of that person's professional sport, and public broadcast personnel necessary for broadcasting the professional sport".

"Yes, it does (apply to professional athletes)," Andrews said on Friday afternoon.

"I expect there'll be a conversation, for instance, with the AFL, where the AFL will be informed, on behalf of all their clubs, that if you want to go back to pre-season training in a month's time or so, you will need to be double-vaxxed, as an authorised worker.

"Even after we get to 80 per cent (double-dosed) and the authorisations are no longer there, the mandate, the rule, the Chief Health Officer direction will stay in place because cases will still be an issue then."

The AFL confirmed the vaccination requirement would apply to players and football program staff of Victorian AFL/AFLW clubs, plus "a small number of other people in the AFL industry".

"The AFL is awaiting formal Government directions on next steps and the AFL will work with clubs, the AFLPA and the broader AFL industry in the coming period so that we are ready for this important change, including with respect to the logistics of proof of vaccination," the AFL said in a statement.

"More broadly the AFL is continuing to work with clubs, the AFLPA and the broader AFL industry to finalise and release its own vaccination policy for all (AFL) and AFLW clubs, players and staff nationally in the coming weeks."

AFL teams begin their staggered returns in November, while AFLW players are currently in pre-season.

Multiple AFL and AFLW players have posted on social media about receiving their vaccinations, while the Western Bulldogs' entire AFL squad have received their first vaccine dose.

Melbourne's A-League Men and A-League Women teams are in pre-season training ahead of their November 19 and December 3 season start dates.

A PFA spokesperson said "following an extensive education program delivered with the APL, the clubs' vaccination rates have to date been incredibly high".

Meanwhile the NBL and WNBL are scheduled to tip off in November.

It's understood more than 90 per cent of players and staff at Super Rugby's Melbourne Rebels, who start pre-season next week, are either double-vaxxed or awaiting their second dose.

The NRL's Melbourne Storm have also heavily encouraged their players to get vaccinated ahead of returning for pre-season across November and December.

Every state cricketer in Victoria has had at least their first jab, while Cricket Australia (CA) says "virtually every single professional player" in the country will be fully vaccinated by the end of this month.

Some 98 per cent of Australia's domestic cricketers have had their first dose, while 82 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Every nationally-contracted cricketer, male and female, is fully vaccinated.

Vaccination is required for any CA employee travelling internationally, making it effectively mandatory for support staff in addition to any player hoping to represent their country.

None of Australia's major sporting leagues have implemented mandatory coronavirus vaccination rules yet.

But the NBL's New Zealand Breakers and Illawarra Hawks released Tai Webster and Travis Trice respectively after those players were unwilling to receive the vaccine.

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