Sydney and GWS will both fly to Melbourne on Tuesday night in order to hub in Victoria after Sydney’s Covid outbreak worsened, while crowds of up to 25,000 will reportedly be permitted at the MCG and Marvel Stadium.
Team members and staff will fly south at 8pm tonight, with both clubs expected to take the same flight.
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The Giants’ game against Hawthorn on Sunday afternoon will be moved to the MCG, while Sydney remains scheduled to face Port Adelaide in Adelaide this Saturday night.
The Herald Sun reports 25,000 patrons will be allowed to attend both the MCG and Marvel Stadium after the state government baulked at the AFL’s request for 50 per cent capacity.
Another 10 cases of COVID-19 were found in Sydney on Tuesday though all but one was a primary contact of an existing case and already isolating with restrictions and mask use expanded.
Both teams’ stay could easily extend for another week. GWS is due to be hosted by Melbourne in Round 16 on a date to be confirmed, while Sydney is supposed to be hosting West Coast at the SCG.
“The AFL wishes to advise the GWS Giants and the Sydney Swans, who have been living under AFL Supplementary Protocols since Sunday, will travel to Melbourne tonight via charter plane as a precautionary measure ahead of Round 15 of the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season,” the league said in a statement.
“As a result, the Round 15 GWS Giants vs. Hawthorn match scheduled to be played at Giants Stadium has been relocated to the MCG and will take place in the same timeslot of 1:10pm AEST on Sunday, June 27.
“The AFL also advises Thursday night’s Brisbane Lions vs. Geelong Cats match at The Gabba will now commence at 7:30pm AEST (formerly 7:20pm AEST).
“The AFL continues to work closely with respective State Governments, all AFL Clubs and other key stakeholders to best manage the relevant border restrictions currently in place, ensuring the health and safety of the community remains paramount.
“The AFL will confirm arrangements for Round 15, including crowds and ticket on-sale times, once those details are finalised.”
The Swans were yesterday preparing for the possibility of a multi-day home quarantine period before the Port match, and ready to submit to the same watertight lockdown as Collingwood and Geelong did recently.
The AFL was seeking to win an exemption from South Australia’s health authorities to stage the game in its current timeslot (7:40pm AEST).
The match could be moved forwards from night to the evening or even midafternoon to allow John Longmire’s men to fly in and fly out on the day, though it is the AFL’s preference to keep the fixture as it stands.
SA premier Steven Marshall told reporters on Monday he remains “hopeful” the match will go ahead as scheduled, but added he does “take a prudent position on this”.
Sydney’s players and staff were already under protocols to limit movement in crowded public places.
The league was hoping to release its completed Round 15 fixture by Monday night, but finer details around crowds and the South Australian exemption have pushed the confirmation back.
The AFL was buoyed by wins to Collingwood and Geelong in Adelaide despite restrictions in the days leading up to their respective games. Their victories proved the impediments were not insurmountable, albeit not ideal.
If SA health authorities mandate the same rules, all Sydney players and staff will need to sign declarations before the board the flight, get tested when they land, and return a negative test by the time of the game.
Power players and coaches would also be required to isolate for 48 hours after Saturday’s game and then receive a negative test result before returning to the community.