Albury mayor Kevin Mack has slammed the 'inequity' of allowing 5000 people to attend race courses in NSW while keeping all community sport shut down.
Cr Mack's calls to consider the mental wellbeing of players, coaches and volunteers has been echoed by Border solicitor Mike Eden, who has challenged MPs Justin Clancy and Sussan Ley to stand up for the communities hit hardest by the snub to sport.
Restaurants, gyms, cinemas and theatres across the Riverina can re-open from Saturday yet sporting venues will stand empty on a day when finals should have been played in all of our major competitions.
"It's sad that there are conditions to allow 5000 people to go to the race track, yet kids and adults can't finish their football, soccer or netball season," Cr Mack said.
"Why have they put in this 5000 figure for racing when 1000 people can't go to the football at Walbundrie for finals, or the Ovens and Murray?
"This was a great opportunity to say 'those that can, do.'
"Sport provides that release for our mental health.
"Two-thirds of the state are out, so give two-thirds of the state an opportunity.
"I don't want to go to the races. That's not good for anyone's mental health.
"There's just that inequity."
Eden has already raised the issue with Mr Clancy but he wants to see action.
"Justin and Sussan can go behind closed doors and try to work at it but we want them to say it loud and proud, that we are being screwed," Eden said.
"They've got to come out publicly and support their community.
"That's what they're being paid for.
"Community sport is at the heart of a lot of very small towns and you live for these memories.
"I remember grand finals when I was 16, it's a highlight of your life and these guys are going to miss out on it because some bureaucratic dumbo in Sydney has said community sport is more dangerous than horse racing or going to a restaurant."
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has said community sport will not return until 80 percent of the state has been double-vaccinated, a target he doesn't think will be reached until November.
"These people in the health department are sitting at their desks and making decisions that are affecting people yet they have no idea what they're going through," Eden said.
"I get that we've got to stay safe, I get they're making a decision on the whole of the community but this is making it hard for local communities who don't have any cases.
"You can go to a restaurant but you can't go to the footy or netball. I don't get it."
The Ovens & Murray Football Netball League and Albury-Wodonga Football Association both cancelled their seasons this week, following the fall of the Tallangatta & District, Upper Murray and Ovens & King leagues.
ALSO IN SPORT:
"They all got to the point where they'd nearly finished the season," Cr Mack said.
"It doesn't make sense (community sport not being allowed to resume).
"It's all on or all off, that's my personal view."
It looks like summer sports will be impacted, too, by the government's vaccination target.
"We haven't had a case here and I call on our local members to be loud about this," Eden said.
"We see what happens when Gladys Berejiklian or Daniel Andrews get a front page headline smashed at them, saying 'this doesn't make any sense.'
"They change, they fix it, and yet here on the border, there has been no common sense from day one in these decisions.
"There is no medical reason to allow 5000 people at a horse racing meeting and not have the Albury Tigers, Brock-Burrum or Albury Thunder play community sport with a crowd and the four square-metre rule."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.