Aussie Rules

Opinion: The Treatment Of Conor McKenna In Australia Has Been A Disgrace

Opinion: The Treatment Of Conor McKenna In Australia Has Been A Disgrace

No country is perfect, but some are more deeply flawed than others. Australia, for all its beautiful beaches and wildlife and Nick Cave, is a country with its share of troubles. Racism and xenophobia - two issues sadly on the rise around the world - have dogged Australia for decades. Restarting society post-coronavirus has proven challenging for many countries, but we've seen some of the worst of Australia since Conor McKenna's positive test for covid-19 on Saturday

McKenna has become a public villain in Australia over the past four or five days, after his positive test forced the cancellation of Essendon vs Melbourne and seemed to throw the AFL season into jeopardy. McKenna's name was everywhere in the media after his positive test was confirmed Saturday. He became the AFL's 'Patient Zero' on both broadcast and social media. His movements over the past week became the subject of widespread public speculation and his actions inspired vile tweets and stupid shock jock rants.

Particularly insipid was a video snippet of McKenna blowing a snot-rocket and coughing during training, which was captured by Melbourne's Seven News, and looped over and over and over again since Saturday. This clip became the AFL's Zapruder film.

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Today Essendon confirmed McKenna actually tested negative for the disease yesterday.

The Age today reported:

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The running defender recorded several negative tests after coming back from overseas, one outright positive on Saturday and an ‘‘irregularity’’ on Friday – really a tiny trace of the virus – that the club said was a second positive.

The positive test McKenna had on Saturday was understood to be on a very low level, which arguably meant there was a lower chance of transmission of the virus to teammates and others at the club who had been near him.

McKenna has been the subject of widespread Twitter abuse since Saturday. The AFL and the Australian media must ask itself serious questions about creating such a febrile mood towards the Tyroneman. How did McKenna's name -unlike other people who've tested positive for coronavirus - surface in the media? How did McKenna's personal activities like attending a legal house viewing become public fodder?

One wonders if McKenna's status as an Irishman and an outsider in Australia made him a convenient scapegoat for general coronavirus anxieties. McKenna was the victim of trial by the media over the past week and he deserves more than an apology for the treatment he has received.

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McKenna has battled homesickness since arriving in Melbourne and we can only imagine this whole ordeal will hasten his return to Tyrone.

Donny Mahoney

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