As the Canberra community maps out a phased return to competitive sport, a fascinating debate is happening behind the scenes.
The directives about vaccinations for participants differ from what is taking place in many professional and international competitions.
NBL clubs have already parted ways with two players unwilling to be vaccinated. The AFL has indicated that vaccinations are the pathway out after another season disrupted by COVID.
The Victorian Government has stated that AFL players must be fully vaccinated before returning for pre-season training on 26 November.
The NRL has also encouraged players to be vaccinated, stating that unvaccinated players could face issues with travel. In fact, there is a campaign underway, with players encouraging the wider community to be vaccinated.
While ACT sports organisations are not making COVID vaccinations mandatory to compete, there is a strong encouragement to do so.
An example is Cricket ACT. The organisation is looking at a phased return to competition on 5 November for seniors and juniors Cricket ACT. A revamped women’s first-grade competition will also begin on Sunday, 28 November. Cricket ACT has encouraged all competitors to be vaccinated.
Cricket ACT’s media release echoes statements from several other sports. It points out that vaccines are not mandatory, but Cricket ACT strongly encourages everyone who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to get their jabs to play a part in keeping our community safe.
Basketball ACT is also mapping out a phased return to competition. The summer league starts in January.
In a memo sent by Basketball ACT, members were reminded of the ACT Government Health position that vaccinations are voluntary yet highly recommended, and no public health directives have been issued requiring proof of vaccination.
However, Basketball ACT does strongly encourage all members and the wider basketball community to become vaccinated to protect all within the basketball community and the wider public.
The organisation has also established ‘Vaxx Ambassadors’, with local basketball personalities encouraging those within the basketball community to step up and get vaccinated.
CEO David Simpson says in the lead up to the return, two free court sessions will be provided at both the Southern Cross and Belconnen Stadiums.
At this stage, Basketball ACT is not considering implementing policies requiring mandatory vaccinations before returning to the courts.
So these and other sports organisations are playing a part in keeping the community safe from the spread of COVID-19. They are doing what they can to encourage people back to organised sport.
But if you play a sport in the ACT, would you be comfortable playing with or against somebody who isn’t vaccinated, or would you place your kids in the same scenario? Judging by the vaccination take-up rates in Canberra, there’s the possibility it may not even be an issue.