The requirement for supporters to be vaccinated to attend AFL games in 2002 is a “plausible possibility” according to league boss Gillon McLachlan.
As the AFL chief confirmed both South Australia and Queensland were on standby to host the grand final should Western Australia go into any snap lockdowns, he confirmed the entry requirement could come into play next season.
After Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews hinted at the rule for restaurants and other venues, McLachlan said the league would have to consider vaccine passports to safeguard the competition if it wanted crowds to return.
“Forget what I think, the people in industry and the government are signalling it’s a possibility,” he said on Friday.
“Vaccine passports to restaurants, it’s a real thing in the frame. It has to be on the table here. Either to be vaccinated or have a negative PCR test, it’s what is going on in other countries, it’s been discussed. There is no position here, but clearly it has to be something as a plausible possibility.”
A vaccine mandate for players is unlikely despite the AFL Players Association pushing the message hard to get jabbed.
“We have got to have that conversation with the key stakeholders,” McLachlan told 3AW.
“We have run a clear education program across the industry, all clubs have had that in the player cohort, we are really strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated – players and coaches – and the decision on the final settings will be made by the end of the season, and we don’t need to have the final position until we have supply, which we don’t at the moment.
“I think I have been pretty clear. We need to be vaccinated as a community to get out of this tough position we are in. We need to work through the process with the clubs and player union on our final setting, but we are pretty strong we need to be vaccinated.”
McLachlan, who is in quarantine in Perth ahead of the grand final at Optus Stadium on September 25, confirmed the league had other options should any lockdowns prevent a crowd at the decider.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has called snap lockdowns, which locked out crowds, hours before scheduled games in the past.
“You assess where we are at in the rest of the country, whether that’s South Australia, (that’s) obviously an option, the Gabba. You would make an assessment on what is available, but the hypotheticals, I have been asked that before, it’s a hypothetical,” McLachlan said.
“There is a provision or contingency available in the agreement (with WA). We don’t want to play in front of no crowds but we are currently playing here in Western Australia. There is a 100 per cent capacity available.
“Our position is clear. If crowds are locked out, if it’s any sort of reasonable time, play will hold or we will move the game. After that, it’s just a hypothetical.”