The AFL has been rocked by reports its controversial quarantine hub in Queensland has turned into an ‘out of control’ party.
About 400 AFL players and officials flew to Queensland from coronavirus-riddled Victoria a week ago after being given approval to dodge the state’s lockdown.
The move infuriated those who unsuccessfully applied for a medical exemption to skip premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s mandatory hotel quarantine.
While AFL boss Gill McLachlan insisted everyone who arrived last week is doing the same 14-day quarantine as everyone else, the behaviour in the hub at the Mecure Resort has come under scrutiny, along with some of those who have been let in.
Furious Channel Nine reporter Tony Jones described the quarantine hub as ‘out of control’.
‘I don’t agree with some of the people that have gone up there. You’re talking about grandparents, babysitters, the girlfriend of a reporter, there’s even suggestions a swimming coach has gone up there for the kids — this is out of control,’ Jones told Footy Classified on Monday night.
AFL WAGs and officials lounge by the Mercure’s pool during their hotel quarantine on the Gold Coast
Panellist Caroline Wilson intervened by saying they were being paid for it anyway.
‘It doesn’t matter Caro, it doesn’t matter,’ Jones continued.
‘Do you really need babysitters? Do you really need grandparents up there?’
Former Cricket Australia boss turned Geelong Cats board member James Sutherland is also among those who made the trip, along with his young son.
‘Geelong are about to embark on a finals series campaign and James’ years of experience with touring parties in elite sporting environments is providing assistance and leadership to their group,’ an AFL spokesman said.
Former Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland with wife Heidi
It comes after it was revealed AFL WAGs and officials are living it up in ‘hotel quarantine’ – sipping cocktails while lounging by the pool at their luxury Gold Coast resort last week.
It’s understood McLachlan is frustrated with some of the behaviour, which included people sunbaking too close together at the pool and officials congretgating at the bar after 5pm.
Text messages were sent to all 400 people in the two-week quarantine facility, reminding them of pool and bar etiquette
In a meeting with hub leaders, McLachlan made it ‘crystal clear’ that any breaches would have severe consequences and may result in sending people home, the Herald Sun reported.
Birds eye video footage of the quarantine hotel showed AFL officials and WAGs make the most of the luxury Mercure resort
Aerial footage – published by Nine News on Thursday – showed WAGs relaxing by the swimming pool at the quarantine resort as children splashed in the water.
The wives and girlfriends soaked up the sun with drinks in hand, just a few steps away from the poolside bar.
The vision is a world away from the experience of other travellers who have desperately fought to enter Queensland.
Jayne Brown, 60, spent two weeks confined to a tiny hotel room in Brisbane following her recent return from Sydney, where renowned neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo removed two large tumours on her brain.
The grandmother-of-seven requested an exemption from hotel quarantine to self-isolate at home on the Sunshine Coast, but was rejected twice.
She blasted Ms Palaszczuk for allowing the AFL officials to enter the state on Tuesday night.
‘I don’t understand it, mind-blowing,’ Ms Brown told Nine News.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been criticised for easing her strict border controls to welcome the officials and their loved ones from coronavirus-riddled Victoria
Jayne Brown (pictured) was denied an exemption to self-isolate at her Sunshine Coast home
The Queensland government has deemed all of Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT to be coronavirus hotspots.
Travellers from hotspot states who are granted a border declaration pass are required to spend 14 days in mandatory hotel quarantine, at their own cost.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg accused the Queensland government of double standards.
Pictured: Members of the AFL quarantine hub lounge by the pool of their hotel
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan flew to the Gold Coast on Tuesday ahead of the code’s announcement the Gabba in Brisbane will host the grand final
Mr Frydenberg said the football hub showed two sets of rules on borders given regular punters had missed out on vital medical treatment.
‘It’s just not on that a young woman can lose an unborn child because of confusion at the borders,’ he told the Nine Network on Thursday.
‘At the same time, footy officials can go down to their hotel bar as they so-called quarantine in Queensland.
‘It seems double standards on our borders.’
Mr McLachlan refused to be drawn into a war of words.
‘The borders between the federal government and the states is a big issue and I’m not going to wade into that, other than to say I empathise with every situation,’ he told 3AW.
McLachlan arrives for a press conference from the Queensland quarantine hub on Wednesday to announce the 2020 AFL Grand Final will be played at the Gabba
He hoped people would understand the arrangements were keeping people in jobs.
‘With respect to the borders and the individual circumstances – great empathy. With respect to the politics – not for me.’
The CEO flew to the Gold Coast on Tuesday ahead of the code’s announcement Brisbane will host the grand final.
AFL officials and their families still need to undergo hotel quarantine after flying into the state.
But they are free to leave their room and use the pool and bar amenities, unlike other quarantine guests solely confined to their rooms.
Queensland will host the 2020 Grand Final on October 24 at the Gabba in Brisbane following a deadly coronavirus outbreak in Victoria.