Sunday’s AFL derby in Perth will be played in front of empty stands because of the city’s latest COVID-19 scare.
Optus Stadium was set to be three quarters full for the marquee match between West Coast and Fremantle, which comes a week after fans were barred from attending a clash between the Dockers and North Melbourne at the same venue.
However, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan announced on Sunday morning that would no longer be the case.
The change comes after a hotel security guard and two of his close contacts tested positive to COVID-19.
“I understand people will be disappointed and some people will be frustrated,” Mr McGowan said.
“The decision has been made on health advice and we have tried to communicate this as quickly as possible.
“Having 45,000 people try to get to Optus Stadium at the same time is too much of a risk, especially as we are still going through the close contacts.”
The state government has opted against another snap lockdown, but McGowan cautioned that “if we need to go back into lockdown we will”.
“That decision will be based on the latest health advice,” he told reporters.
The AFL has navigated the opening seven rounds of this season with limited coronavirus-related disruptions, although the Brisbane Lions spent several rounds in Victoria because of a lockdown in their home city.
Another lockdown in Perth would affect the ease of interstate travel in the coming week, delivering a knock-on effect for the league.
The Eagles are slated to tackle Hawthorn at the MCG in round eight, while the Dockers host Brisbane at Optus Stadium.
North Melbourne returned home after their recent trip to Perth, but had to wait until Wednesday to get the green light to host Sunday’s clash with Melbourne in Hobart.