Three months after Round 1 of the 2020 Aussie Rules season, Round 2 was finally played last weekend. The AFL, like many other leagues, have implemented mass testing among players and staff and felt it was safe to restart. Now, half way through Round 3, the restart looks uncertain with news that Essendon's Conor McKenna has become the first player to test positive for the virus.
The Bombers' game with Melbourne tomorrow has been postponed indefinitely after the Tyrone man tested positive earlier today. His teammates have been told to self isolate until McKenna's close contacts are identified, while the club has been closed.
Other games scheduled for tomorrow are set to go ahead.
McKenna had been in Ireland during the lockdown, but returned last month and self isolated for two weeks. He had tested negative to seven previous tests so it is thought he contracted the virus in Australia. The AFL also say he hasn't broken any of the strict protocols set on players to avoid to contracting the disease.
His tests were among 13,000 Covid tests carried out by the AFL so far, and is the first positive result. It is hoped that it was caught in time and not spread to other members of the team, which would surely put Essendon's immediate involvement in the AFL season into question.
The AFL has taken a big hit from the new wave of COVID cases, forced to scrap tomorrow's Essendon-Melbourne fixture after Bomber star Conor McKenna tested positive to the virus. https://t.co/5zYfOfohG3 @_AMcCormack7 #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/4JcRC7C8C9
— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) June 20, 2020
The worry for the AFL is that is comes as part of an uptake in cases in Australia. While games remain behind closed doors for now, this is a setback for the league who would hope to open their gates sooner rather than later, as Super Rugby has done in New Zealand.