NRL grand finalists Canberra have joined the sporting exodus from the nation’s smoke-choked capital, moving pre-season training to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
They follow Super Rugby’s Brumbies who have relocated to Newcastle due to health concerns for their players from the bushfire smoke plaguing Canberra.
On Monday, Canberra was recorded as having the worst air quality of any major city in the world as bushfires rage in the nearby New South Wales south coast, Riverina and Snowy Mountains regions.
The Raiders will train indoors only in Canberra until the 30-strong NRL squad starts a 10-day camp on the Sunshine Coast on Thursday.
“With the prolonged effects of the current bushfire situation and the hazardous conditions due to smoke here in Canberra, we’ve made the decision to relocate training for a period to allow the playing group to prepare as best they can for the season without putting their health or safety at risk,” Raiders chief executive Don Furner said.
The ongoing smoky conditions have already forced the cancellation of a Canberra Capitals WNBL game while soccer’s Canberra United have postponed W-League and Y-League matches.
The Australian Institute of Sports has closed down facilities and the University of Canberra, where the Brumbies train, has shut down until air quality improves.
The NRL has announced they are working with clubs, states and partners to develop a “co-ordinated initiative” to support fire affected communities.