Former Victorian Prime Minister Jeff Kennett says Victoria is shrinking “within its own community” and may lose its sporting capital title after the state’s shocking cancellation of the Grand Prix.
The Victorian government confirmed yesterday that both the Australian F1 Grand Prix and the Moto GP at Phillip Island have been canceled, with officials blaming the decision on the federal government’s slow vaccine rollout and limitation on international arrivals.
But the state’s former Liberal Prime Minister Jeff Kennett said the constant cancellation of events is hurting the state.
“People associated with these major events, and it’s not just the athletes, it’s the people who take care of the catering, it’s the people who maintain the grandstands – we’re losing, losing so much economic activity” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“We’re depressing the community and of course destroying our reputation as the sporting capital, not just of Australia, but the world for what we’ve been able to offer in the past.
“We cannot continue on this path that just says, until everyone is vaccinated, we will close our borders because by that time Victoria will be the rust bucket of Australia.”
The Australian Grand Prix was canceled last year due to the global pandemic and was postponed from March to later in 2021.
The Albert Part Formula 1 race was scheduled to take place on November 21st, while the Moto GP was scheduled for October 24th.
Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula said the government was working on plans for the 2022 event.
Mr. Kennett said it was “stupid” to schedule the event for November and should have been postponed to March or April next year.
“It’s just deeply disappointing that everyone is saying, ‘Let’s get out of this pandemic, let’s give and give economic activity, let’s give people something to enjoy,’ and yet we’re shrinking again here,” he said.
“Victoria is literally shrinking within her own community.”
Mr Kennett said major events in the state needed better planning and proposed new quarantine protocols ahead of the Australian Open.
Mr Kennett said international players who have been fully vaccinated should not be quarantined if they tested negative before and after their flight to the country.
“I suspect many of the top tennis players will not be quarantined for another 14 days,” he said.
“So if we don’t have a more flexible protocol or don’t get vaccinated, I think there is a real risk that the Tennis Open will either be downsized or canceled.”