The already jam-packed WNBL season has been thrown into chaos with the Adelaide Lightning’s entire team forced into quarantine following Adelaide’s COVID-19 outbreak.
A Tuesday night clash against the Southside Flyers had to be cancelled and officials will have to reschedule three games, with the Lightning players and officials forced into isolation in Townsville until November 23 by Queensland Health.
The team has been isolated and confined to their accommodation since Monday afternoon when the Queensland government advised that anyone who had entered the state from South Australia on or after Monday, November 9 must self-isolate until they have been tested for COVID-19.
The Lightning travelling party departed Adelaide at 6.10am (local) on Monday, November 9 on a direct flight to Brisbane.
All members of the Lightning group have been tested and are awaiting results while no member of the travelling party or the league has shown any signs or symptoms for COVID-19.
Lightning general manager Tim Brenton, who isn’t in Queensland, said the “resilient” group of players would support each other while they wait to get back on court.
“Our thoughts are with our players, coaches and support staff,” he said.
“We’re disappointed not to be playing … but we understand the protocol surrounding these unique circumstances.
“Our amazing, resilient group are currently self-isolating as required by the Queensland Government and will be in quarantine until Monday, 23 November.
“We have a strong group of girls, coaches and staff who will support each other and we are looking forward to getting back on the court as soon as possible.”
League officials vowed to continue the season despite now needing to reschedule the four games the Lightning was set to play and have declared the competition won’t be extended.
Basketball Australia executive general manager Paul Maley stressed that Adelaide‘s quarantine situation wouldn’t derail the season.
“We will find a way to make the schedule work,” Maley said.
“Assuming all the tests come back negative, our challenge is that the Lightning will miss three games over the next seven days.
“It is challenging given it‘s already a condensed season with 14 regular-season games in 32 days, but we are working through that now.
“We work on win/loss percentage, so there is a way if absolutely necessary to have a game missed and we can still conduct a season with teams having a win/loss percentage based on fewer games.
“But that is less than ideal and we will look to reschedule all three games.”
The entire season had already been packed in to a tight six-week window, with matches nearly every day in Townsville, Cairns and Mackay.
Adelaide’s COVID-19 cluster had already forced the Queensland government to impose bans on the players’ families joining the team.
Lightning captain Steph Talbot, who was about to welcome her family to the North Queensland hub before the bans intervened.
“My family were going to come up and another (player’s) family were as well, but they can no longer come,” Talbot said.
“Everyone is shutting their borders after the COVID outbreak in Adelaide.
“Families could come to the hub, but not anymore.”