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Coronavirus fears sees fans barred from AFL western derby at Perth’s Optus Stadium

Coronavirus fears sees fans barred from AFL western derby at Perth’s Optus Stadium
May 2, 2021

Just hours before today’s AFL western derby at between West Coast and Fremantle is due to kick off, fans have been told not to attend because of Perth’ latest COVID-19 scare.

With Perth and the Peel region having been through a now eased three-day lockdown last weekend, Optus Stadium was set to be three-quarters full for the marquee match between West Coast and Fremantle.

However, as of this morning (Sunday 2nd May) Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced morning that would no longer be the case.

Following a hotel security guard and two of his close contacts tested positive to COVID-19, Premier McGowan stated "I understand people will be disappointed and some people will be frustrated.

"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 (the venue) at the same time is too much of a risk, especially as we are still going through the close contacts."

While the Western Australian Government has opted against another snap lockdown, Premier McGowan cautioned that "if we need to go back into lockdown we will", noting “that decision will be based on the latest health advice.”

With fans now unable to attend the match, only player and essential staff will be allowed at the venue.

Premier Mark McGowan said having 45,000 people in the stadium was "too much of a risk" after three new cases of COVID-19

Optus Stadium Chief Executive Mike McKenna said he was disappointed at the closure but understood the circumstances.

Estimating the closure would cost the stadium and the clubs millions of dollars, McKenna advised “it's a soulless place, when you're playing footy in front of an empty stand

"We won't get the benefit of the atmosphere these grounds create."

The ABC quoted West Coast Chief Executive Trevor Nisbett as having estimated that not having full capacity for the Eagles' home game would cost the club about $500,000.

This is the second weekend that Optus Stadium will see an AFL match played with no fans.

The AFL put out a statement confirming that Ticketmaster would provide refunds for any fans who had bought tickets to the game.

Image: Empty seats at Optus Stadium.

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