THE Ararat Rats are the fifth club to pull out of a proposed junior football and netball competition.
A modified, eight-week competition was scheduled to begin on August 8, featuring clubs from the Wimmera Football League, Horsham District league and Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara league.
The season was originally scheduled to begin on July 25, but was postponed by two weeks to give clubs more time to determine if they would participate.
Edenhope-Apsley, Harrow-Balmoral, Taylors Lake and the Warrack Eagles have also pulled out of the season.
Ararat president David Hosking announced his club's decision on Wednesday afternoon.
"We believe the club has a responsibility to not only all of you, but also the broader community in trying to minimise the spread of COVID-19," he said.
"With this in mind, we don't believe some games of sport should take precedence over community safety.
"We appreciate this is extremely disappointing to all of you, but this is something that has never before happened in any of our life times, so we need to be cautious in our response."
There were two new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the Horsham municipality on Wednesday.
AFL Wimmera-Mallee's Jason Muldoon said on Tuesday that there was seemingly more risk for Ararat and Stawell-based clubs due to their proximity to Melbourne and the Grampians, a tourism hot-spot.
Mr Hosking said it was time to start looking toward brighter things ahead.
"We would like to particularly thank the coaches for their patience and support over hte past few months," he said.
"On a brighter note, next year will be our 150th birthday. Hopefully we will get a start and we can make it a year to remember.
"It is a remarkable achievement and one we should celebrate accordingly."
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