Cancelled, postponed & playing on: the situation right now in Australian sport
With the situation changing constantly around Australian sport's response to Covid-19, let's check in on how things are proceeding and the affect on UNSW's athletes and clubs.
Published on the 21 March 2020
The implications are big for athletics at the moment, as the Olympics have still not been cancelled or postponed. This means our athletes are still trying to run, throw and jump their way into qualifying for the Games, but everything is on hold at the moment. UniSport Athletics Nationals have been postponed to an as yet to be decided date, along with the Athletics Australia National Championships. The junior portion of those championships have been cancelled altogether. Affected UNSW Elite Athlete Program (EAP) members include Georgia Winkcup, John Gikas and Jess Thornton, who are all in the mix for the Olympics and had qualifying events planned over the next few months to increase their chances of making it to Tokyo. With no date yet for when a call will be made on the Olympics, there are a lot of factors we don't yet know and we will keep an eye on this situation as it develops.
Cricket Australia have made strong recommendations to all clubs and associations across Australia to shut down their competitions and training sessions. They have set an example by ending the Sheffield Shield early and declaring NSW (which include's UNSW Cricket Club's Matt Gilkes) the winners of the 2019-20 competition. The NSW Men's and Women's Premier Cricket competitions, where the UNSW Cricket Club and the Universities Women's Cricket Club play have also concluded. The Women's National Cricket League ended in February, meaning they have been unaffected by the cancellations.
The Super Rugby has been abandoned for 2020, with Australia and New Zealand's borders closing tonight, the competition is no longer feasible to run. This has affected UNSW EAP members Ned Hanigan, Triston Reilly and James Ramm, who play with the NSW Waratahs. UNSW's community partner Randwick Rugby is waiting to hear news on the upcoming Shute Shield - for now it has been postponed until at least 1 May, along with all community rugby. A decision on whether the competition will proceed and if so, when it will start, will be announced when more is known about the progress of the pandemic. The World Sevens competition has also been suspended, affecting UNSW Elite Athlete Program member Henry Hutchison. The Sevens teams were in the midst of preparing for Tokyo 2020, which remains up in the air at this stage.
The Suncorp Super Netball Team Girls Cup pre-season competition, which UNSW EAP member Matilda McDonell was due to compete in, has been cancelled. It was to be played between 27-29 March. At this stage, the main season is still going ahead on 2 May, but Netball Australia and the Super Netball Commission (of which UNSW alumna Marina Go is a member) are taking the situation day by day and will make a call on the competition closer to the scheduled start date. Community netball has been suspended until 2 May and Netball NSW have strongly recommended that all clubs and associations cease all activity until advised. The UNSW Netball Club has followed this guidance and will wait for further advice from the state governing body over the next few weeks.
The Sydney AFL competition has been suspended until at least 31 May, which has put all activity for the UNSW-Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs on hold. The AFLW finals will be played this weekend, with recent UNSW graduate Rebecca Beeson and EAP member Tait Mackrill playing for GWS Giants, who will face Melbourne at Giants Stadium on Saturday afternoon. All of the finals games, along with the regular round games in the AFLM are being played in locked stadiums, with no fans allowed in attendance.
The FIH Hockey Pro League, in which UNSW EAP member Tim Brand plays with the Australian Kookaburras, has been competing has been suspended until at least 17 May. The Australian team has already qualified for the Olympics, but has not selected their final squad and will be waiting to see what occurs with the Pro League and the Olympics over the coming months.
The final rounds of the Australian Water Polo League have been cancelled and no finals played. The UNSW-Wests Killer Whales finished the season in fifth position on the ladder, though they played two fewer games than three of the teams ahead of them. The UNSW-Wests Magpies finished in second place, just one point behind Sydney Uni, who played two more games. With a 92% win record, they can surely take the moral victory from the abandoned season. Many of our EAPs are in the mix for the Australian teams for Tokyo, including Amy Ridge, Nathan Power and Tim Putt, and will be waiting on decisions around the Olympics and future international matches.