AFL announces Covid vaccination policy and confirms no jab, no play
Every AFL player will have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by February 18, 2022 as part of a policy released by the league on Thursday.
Unvaccinated players won’t be able to attend club or AFL premises, including to train or play, unless they have a league-approved medical exemption.
The league announced the policy alongside the AFL Players Association (AFLPA) as part of a three-stage schedule to link in players from all states before pre-season matches begin.
The February 18 deadline is the final stage of the AFL’s three-stage schedule.
Stage one is already in full swing in Victoria, due to the government’s authorised worker mandate released earlier in October that states all authorised workers must have their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination by October 22 – high-performance athletes fell under that umbrella.
The second stage applies to all remaining AFLW players and AFL staff, as well as the full group at the Sydney Swans and GWS Giants, as they are required to have had their first dose by November 19 and be fully vaccinated by December 17.
AFL executive GM of football and General Counsel Andrew Dillon felt the policy was a continued effort on behalf of the league to protect the wider community.
“The health and safety of our players, staff and the wider community has been one of the guiding principles governing the AFL’s ongoing response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“The AFL has undertaken extensive education programs across the clubs and industry in regard to Covid-19 vaccinations and we will continue to be led by the Government and Medical Professionals.
“The uptake of AFL industry people being vaccinated has so far been extremely encouraging and we are very pleased the overwhelming majority of our players, coaches, staff members across the AFL and the 18 clubs have at the very least received their first vaccination shot.
“We will continue to work with the AFLPA to provide all players further support and guidance through the evolving situation.
“The football industry has gone above and beyond in the last 18 months to safeguard our people and industry and the community and ensure the competitions have been able to go on.
“The vaccination policy is a continuation of our commitment, ensuring the livelihoods of the thousands of people that work in football, and making sure we can continue to play for the millions of fans across the country, in which football means so much.
“Our policy delivers on our commitment to best protect our players, staff and the wider community, so we can once again unite as families, as friends, as work colleagues, as teammates, as supporters, as communities, as one.”
The announcement of the league-wide policy comes just days after Melbourne star Tom McDonald claimed it would be “ethically wrong” for the AFL to enforce Covid-19 vaccinations for players.
McDonald, who is fully vaccinated, agreed with making the jab mandatory for some sectors like health care and aged care, but not footballers.
“I’m vaccinated and most players would’ve been (by now), but to be honest, I think it’s ethically wrong to force people into a medical procedure,” McDonald said on Monday.
“I think we’re on track. We would’ve got 90 per cent as a state anyway and I don’t see why we needed to cause such issues and division by forcing people (to get vaccinated) in many jobs where it’s probably not as necessary.”
Asked if he would have any issues playing against non-vaccinated opponents, McDonald said: “No issue at all. That’s why you get vaccinated, you protect yourself. I don’t understand why we need to force other players to.”
Originally published as AFL announces Covid vaccination policy and confirms no jab, no play
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