News Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreaks sow chaos and doubt in major sports leagues’ season fixtures

COVID-19 outbreaks sow chaos and doubt in major sports leagues’ season fixtures

AFL-crazed Victorians saw their grand final played in Queensland -- and it might happen again. Photo: AAP
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The fixturing headache facing Australian sport is in danger of turning into an almighty migraine as NSW and Victoria battle to contain the latest COVID-19 outbreaks.

The NBL, A-League, and BBL seasons were all on track for smooth starts before a coronavirus cluster hit Sydney’s Northern Beaches in mid-December.

That outbreak has since filtered through to other parts of NSW and also into Victoria, creating more match scheduling worries.

The case numbers aren’t huge, but Western Australia has already closed its border to both NSW and Victoria.

Victoria closed its border to NSW at 11.59pm on January 1, with most of the rest of the country also taking hardline border stances against NSW.

Sporting administrators will be hoping Victoria can snuff its outbreak quickly, given the amount of sport scheduled for that state in the coming months and the large number of clubs based there.

In response to the Sydney outbreak, the A-League was forced into a major fixture upheaval which resulted in 17 of the first 35 games being rescheduled for a later date.

Those games still have ‘to be confirmed’ status, and that was before the Victoria outbreak.

With three Melbourne-based clubs, an A League hub could be on the way. Photo: AAP

Football Australia is yet to announce its next course of action, but it now has a big issue, given that Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City, and Western United are all based in Victoria.

It has increased the odds of another A-League hub being created in one of the COVID-free states.

Cricket’s BBL feast organised for Perth in January is still set to go ahead despite WA’s hardline border stance.

As part of the state’s new conditions, anyone who had been in Victoria since December 21 could not enter the state without quarantining for 14 days.

That threatened to hurt several clubs, given some players left the Big Bash hubs over Christmas and other families were allowed to enter.

Renegades captain Aaron Finch was one player to spend time at home in Victoria before Christmas, but he isn’t expected to be denied entry into WA.

The Scorchers will also host the Sydney Sixers, Sydney Thunder, and Hobart Hurricanes.

The Big Bash League season is also up in the air. Photo: AAP

NBL clubs South East Melbourne Phoenix and New Zealand Breakers scrambled to Hobart on Friday to avoid the fresh outbreak in Victoria.

The Sydney Kings and the Hawks recently moved to the NSW border city of Albury, but they too are set to be moved.

The NBL is planning to host a hub in Melbourne from February 20 for a month-long blitz of 36 games, but the fresh outbreak in Victoria could put that at risk if it isn’t brought under control quickly.

The AFLW season, which is due to get underway on January 28, may also require a fixture overhaul if the outbreak continues.

The Giants moved to Albury earlier this week to escape the Sydney outbreak, and it remains to be seen what their next move will be.
Cricket Australia is still planning for the third Test between Australia and India to be played at the SCG.

WA is unlikely to open its borders to NSW and Victoria until those two states have gone 28 days without any locally-acquired cases, meaning AFL pre-season games could also be hampered.

-AAP