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AFL Schedule Turmoil As Victorian COVID-19 Cases Rise

The AFL has been left with scheduling headaches after the Queensland Government announced it will rule against Victorian clubs flying into the state.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria, Queensland health officials have confirmed any Queensland-based team who plays in Melbourne or against a Melbourne team in Queensland is required to quarantine after the match for 14 days if they are remaining in or returning directly to Queensland.

Following this announcement, the AFL announced it has adjusted this coming weekend’s fixture, meaning Carlton will now play St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night, with the West Coast Eagles playing the Sydney Swans at Metricon Stadium on Saturday, and Richmond facing Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.

Richmond were originally scheduled to face West Coast at Metricon stadium before the Queensland Government’s changes meant they would not be allowed access to the state.

AFL general manager of clubs and broadcasting, Travis Auld, said the AFL is prepared to make any needed changes in order to adhere to the advice of governments and health officials.

“I want to thank the Queensland Government and the chief health officer for their support of the AFL season and for helping us to make the changes this week that are in line with their quarantine requirements related to COVID-19 hotspots,” Auld said.

“Since the beginning of this COVID-19 pandemic we have said consistently that every decision we make will be anchored in the advice of Government and the chief health officers and that we would always rely on their advice in developing the strict protocols we have in place to ensure we protect the wider community as well as our players and staff.

“We understand the decision of the Queensland Government and thank them for their support in developing the high-performance centres that allowed us to bring Fremantle, West Coast Eagles, Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide to the state to allow our season to resume.

“We take seriously the role we need to play as a national leader in ensuring the COVID-19 virus is contained and we will continue to work with Government and the medical experts to conduct our season in a way that prioritises and promotes community safety,” he said.

The changes come amid indications as many as six Victorian teams will rotate through the Western Australia quarantine hub experience, with the AFL confirming Geelong and Collingwood will be the first Victorian teams to quarantine in Western Australia.

The move will allow the clubs to compete in front of up to 30,000 Western Australians, before the government doubles its limit on fans the next day, allowing West Coast and Fremantle to likely meet on July 19 in front of up to 60,000 fans at Optus Stadium.

“I think the broader principle would be that everyone shares the pain, so everyone has to make compromises and sacrifices, so you’ll see that in various ways,” Auld said.

“The WA and SA teams have done their bit.

“I think you’ll have maybe up to six Victorian teams cycle through WA, so certainly they’ll do their bit by being there for at least two or three weeks.

“The Queensland teams have been fortunate the hub’s been in Queensland, but they’ll have a lot of away games back-to-back later in the year, simply because they’ve front-ended a lot of home games,” he said.