Racing to continue

David Braithwaite

HORSE and greyhound racing will continue in Victoria, despite the increasing in restrictions across the state.

The introduction of stage three restrictions across regional Victoria led to the suspension of community sport, but racing can continue because of the low level of risk of spreading COVID-19 with the strict measure already in place.

Announcing which industries and business would be affected by stage four restrictions in Melbourne, Premier Daniel Andrews said animal welfare played a key part in the government deciding to keep racing going.

“It continues because obviously it’s a very-low risk activity, there are changes though, there will be no owners, there will be no media, there will be only broadcaster and direct participants involved in that activity,” the Premier said on Monday.

“There are some significant animal welfare issues if you were to try to turn that industry off, those animals out of training, there are some significant animal welfare issues there.

“It’s a compromise, I am sure some in that industry won’t be pleased, it has been scaled back further but we think we have struck the right balance there.”

Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson was grateful for the opportunity to maintain jobs and continue supporting the 110,000 people who are employed or participating in Victorian thoroughbred racing.

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to take decisive action to ensure that we provide the safest environment possible for those participating in Victorian racing, as well as the wider community,” he said.

“With immediate effect all owners are banned from attending race meetings in Victoria until otherwise advised, with a return to essential staff and active participants only.

“We have been continually reviewing our biosecurity protocols throughout the pandemic and this will be a key focus again over the coming days to determine what further enhancements can and should be made in light of the current circumstances within Victoria.”

Both racing codes have continued since March under strict biosecurity protocols, on top of government directives and advice.

“It is these biosecurity protocols, coupled with the diligence and cooperation of all within Victorian racing, that has seen 190 race meetings and over 1600 races safely conducted in Victoria during that period without a single case of COVID-19 in our industry,” Thompson said.

Greyhound Racing Victoria chairman Peita Duncan and chief executive Alan Clayton said participants registered with GRV must travel directly to and from tracks which they have a dog racing or trialling.

“You cannot ‘stop and shop’ or divert from driving to and from your workplace. These are the rules which allow us to keep racing,” they said in a statement.

“Travelling directly from home, to and from the track, wearing masks, and maintaining the strict distancing regulations, eating at the track, are critical.”

Sale Greyhound Club will next host a meeting on Sunday, with racing at Sale Turf Club on Thursday.

THE Sale Amateur Basketball Association announced its winter domestic season had been cancelled.

SABA president Ben Lancaster was hoping basketball would return for the summer season.

“The upside is that we did have the chance to hold our summer grand finals, we had three rounds of basketball, the under eights started with 11 teams and some of our umpires were graded,” he said.

“The committee will be working as usual behind the scenes in this time to ensure we can come back as strong as ever and ready to play some ball and have some fun.

“In terms of fees, we are looking to refund or roll into the next season, we are just working through the details at the moment and will communicate when appropriate.”

Lancaster encouraged players to keep active during the time of restrictions.

“In this time please find a ball, a piece of concrete and ring if you are lucky enough, and set yourself some challenges,” he said.

“It will help with taking a break from things such as home schooling and keep you focused and active.”

VICTORIA’S elite under 18 football competitions have been cancelled for 2020.

The AFL will continue to support all under 18 competition players for the rest of the year and are committed to ensuring opportunities will exist in 2021 for a revised talent pathways model.

Three rounds of the girls’ season were played in March before the season was suspended, but no premiership will be awarded.

The AFL is currently working with all its regions on how to best support all players ahead of the AFLW Draft in October.

The beginning of the boys’ competition was suspended five days before its first matches were scheduled on March 21.

The AFL is continuing to explore a return to train and return to play model for Victoria Country and Metropolitans boys’ squads to provid players the chance to showcase their talent in front of AFL club recruiters. Both squads will not begin training or matches unless it is safe to do so.

The AFL in June announced the boys’ season would begin August 22, and the girls would resume September 5, before a spike in COVID-19 cases prompted the tightening of restrictions.