Retiring AFL coach Alastair Clarkson has urged a shift on how Australia lives with COVID-19, arguing it is “pointless” to aim for eradication.
The four-time premiership coach bowed out on Saturday with a draw against Richmond at an empty MCG.
Melbourne’s lockdown meant there were no fans at the game, which was also the farewell for Hawthorn veteran Shaun Burgoyne, while Richmond teammates chaired retiring stars David Astbury and Bachar Houli off the ground as well.
Clarkson lamented the odd atmosphere and spoke of his frustration about how Australian authorities are trying to deal with the virus.
“The sooner (we) sort of accept the fact that this virus is here for good, like many other viruses that have been here for decades, the sooner we accept the fact that it’s pointless trying to get to zero on this virus,” he said.
“It’s going to be here with us for a long time.
“Let’s work out how we can manage it as a society and get everything back to normal.
“There are industries that are just being crippled by these shutdowns.”
Clarkson’s comments are noteworthy, and not only because he is one of the game’s most respected figures.
The AFL is also acutely aware of how it has been able to keep playing games over the last two seasons, with the help of state governments.
It is unusual for such a senior figure in the game to be so candid about his frustrations.
“Fortunately AFL footy hasn’t been implicated enormously, but still, we can’t play footy the way that we like to play footy,” Clarkson said.
“The competition, while it’s gone ahead, it’s been compromised enormously.”