Hawthorn’s much-anticipated clash with Collingwood has been moved out of Tasmania and relocated to the MCG at the behest of the Tasmanian government.
The AFL confirmed on Thursday afternoon that the Launceston match – expected to be a sellout, with the Magpies playing in Tasmania for premiership points for the first time – would now be played at the MCG at 2.10pm on Sunday.
The AFL had acted on the advice of the Tasmanian government, which had reported a single COVID-19 case.
The outcome is a blow to Hawthorn, in particular, after a tough last week for the club, since the 10,000 crowd allowed at Launceston would have earned the Hawks some significant dollars in their deal to play four home games there. It is one of only three games remaining in Alastair Clarkson’s storied and highly successful coaching career with Hawthorn.
While the COVID situation is fluid around the country, including Victoria, the AFL was confident that the other eight games would not be affected and go ahead as planned in South Australia, where Port Adelaide and Adelaide play their Showdown, Perth, where Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions face West Coast and Fremantle respectively, and Victoria, with the Cats hosting Greater Western Sydney on Friday night in Geelong.
There will be no crowds this weekend in Melbourne, but Adelaide and Perth will allow fans.
The current outbreak in Victoria means there’s a growing cloud over whether crowds will be possible the following weekend, the penultimate round of the home and away season.