The AFL has confirmed a number of fixture changes for round 16 as Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns, Fremantle, and the West Coast Eagles all traveled to Victoria on charted flights this afternoon as the COVID-19 situation in Queensland and Western Australia worsened.
Both Queensland and Western Australia have been put into snap lockdowns in the past 24 hours after receiving several locally acquired cases over the past couple of days forcing the AFL to make further amendments to the round 16 fixture.
All four teams will be in Victoria by tonight, and will undertake Covid tests and remain in isolation until they receive their results.
The AFL on Tuesday evening confirmed that the Gold Coast vs Richmond game, originally slated for Thursday night at Metricon Stadium will now be played at Marvel Stadium.
Fremantle is set to play Carlton at either GMHBA Stadium in Geelong on Saturday night, or UTAS Stadium in Launceston on Saturday afternoon in the other big fixture move.
The Sydney Swans vs West Coast game had already been relocated to GMHBA stadium due to the COVID-19 outbreak in New South Wales.
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With South Australia closing its borders to every state except for Victoria, the move allows for Brisbane to fly in and fly out without being under strict quarantine like we’ve seen in the past with Collingwood flying into Western Australia for the elimination final in 2020.
In a statement released by the AFL this afternoon, AFL Executive General Manager Clubs and Broadcasting Travis Auld said that the decision to move the three clubs to Victoria was the best choice in what is an rapidly changing situation.
“We will continue to remain adaptable as the season progresses in a constantly changing environment,” Auld said.
“While COVID-19 continues to impact the community, we will work closely with state governments, health officials, our clubs, and players to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone in the game.
“The four teams traveling today will fly to Victoria via charter flights and will be Covid-tested on arrival and isolate until they each receive a negative result.”
Auld also confirmed that no changes would be made to the rules and structure of the game regardless of impacts to fixture.
While he couldn’t confirm that another ‘festival of footy’ is out of the question, he did confirm that quarters will remain at 20 minutes plus time on, benches would be four plus a medical substitute, and the interchange cap would not change.
“We won’t change the structure of the game, I’m sure of that,” he said.
“Would we look at playing games mid-week, would we look at condensing the season? At this stage we haven’t needed to consider that, but we’ve learned over the last year and a half that who knows what might be in front of us.”
He remains confident that the AFL can work with State Governments to continue the season.
“As long as we keep meeting our end of the deal, which is number one abiding by the local health regulations.
“In some cases we overlay that with additional protocols. For example the teams that are flying in today, they’re testing and isolating. Not every team needs to do that, but out of an abundance of caution we’ll do it.
“If we keep being good partners, I’m confident that well continue to get the support of each of the state governments.”
UPDATE: June 30 1PM
Despite South Australia not entering lockdown, Adelaide and Port Adelaide will also travel to Melbourne this evening.
More to come.
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