The Giants one of the teams on the move. Photo GWS Giants

Stay tuned for the rolling coverage as the COVID-19 situation across the country evolve and the impacts it has on the Round 18 Fixture.

The AFL and its clubs are on the move once again as COVID 19 outbreaks across the country threaten to derail the season forcing the AFL into a number of fixture changes ahead of round 18.

The Fremantle v Geelong clash will go ahead as planned at Optus Stadium and will run in accordance with the COVID-19 protocols provided by the Western Australian Government.

The Western Bulldogs will fly out on a charter flight to the Gold Coast this morning ahead of the side’s match against the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday afternoon at Metricon Stadium.

The Sydney Swans joined the GWS Giants on a charter flight to Queensland this morning with the Sydney Derby, originally slated earlier this week to be played at Ballarat’s Mars Stadium, will now be played at Metricon Stadium at 6:10 pm.

The Sydney Derby will be preceded by the North Melbourne vs Essendon game which will take place at 12:35 pm earlier in the day at Metricon Stadium. Both teams travelled to Queensland via a charter flight this afternoon.

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The St. Kilda vs Port Adelaide and Collingwood vs Carlton games both fixtured for Marvel Stadium and the MCG respectively will both proceed as planned as it stands. Both games will be played without a crowd in attendance.

AFL Executive General Manager Clubs and Broadcasting Travis Auld said the league would continue to make decisions that ensure the season is able to progress during the ongoing pandemic.

“The decisions we have made this morning regarding the locations of a number of teams have been taken out of an abundance of caution. Our approach remains to take the risk out of the season where the opportunity presents,” Mr Auld said.

“We continue to work towards our priority of reuniting the families of both the GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans and the decision to relocate both sides to Queensland provides maximum flexibility required to achieve that.

“The Western Bulldogs’ travel is one day earlier than scheduled and provides the Dogs with certainty as they prepare for their match against the Gold Coast SUNS.

“The decision to relocate the North Melbourne and Essendon match to Queensland is a precautionary measure that provides flexibility for future rounds.

“As we have throughout the course of the pandemic, we will continue to take measures to ensure that we best manage and minimise risk for those in our game and in the wider community.

“To fans in Ballarat, we are disappointed to be moving the game from regional Victoria and thank the people of Ballarat and the local Council, the Victoria Government and Mars Stadium for their understanding.

“On behalf of the AFL I would like to thank the respective State Governments, each Club, players and the AFLPA, umpires, broadcast partners, venues and all football fans for their continued patience and understanding as we all continue to navigate the pandemic.

“We also want to thank the families of everyone involved in the game for their ongoing support of the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season.”

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