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Queensland closure forces Sydney teams to move

Tom McCartin of the Swans (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

The Australian state of Queensland will from Saturday deny entry to visitors from Sydney, prompting some sports leagues and teams in the country to once again rejig their plans for current seasons.

Australia’s state governments have shut their borders to each other periodically during the pandemic in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The country had largely opened back up until a few weeks ago, when an outbreak in Melbourne, and later Sydney, prompted city and state lockdowns to restart.

Queensland had already banned entry by visitors from some Covid-19-hit suburbs of Sydney, before today (Wednesday) state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the entire city population was blocked from entering from 1am local time on Sunday.

Sydney-based Australian Football League teams the Swans and the Giants are flying out of the city in the next couple of days, earlier than planned, for games in other states. They will now remain in bases in Queensland after those games. The Guardian reported that Swans coach John Longmire said it was not clear if the team will play at home again this year.

NRL teams have previously obtained exemptions from state border closures but are now checking with the Queensland government to make sure that these still hold. NRL teams have travelled between Queensland and New South Wales – the state Sydney is in – since its restart in May on chartered flights without staying overnight.

Super Netball teams the Swifts and the Giants are also exiting Sydney, their home city, for games in other states this weekend. The next phase of this year’s Super Netball competition is to bring all teams together in a Queensland hub, which would stop disruption due to border closures, but there are still games to play in the first phase.

The impact on Super Rugby AU is not yet clear. One upcoming match is currently scheduled in Sydney, on August.

Football’s A-League has two matches scheduled for Sydney in the coming weeks. It has already moved all its teams to a New South Wales hub to finish the 2019-20 season.

Several weeks ago, Melbourne-based teams in the Supercars motorsport series had to make a dramatic border dash to get out of Victoria before border closures affecting that state kicked in. The teams had to quickly assemble cars and equipment, and had little time to say goodbye to loved ones. AFL also exited the city in haste the same weekend.