The NRL and the AFL have made difficult decisions to relocate events away from Victoria, as the state undergoes tightened restrictions in the wake of the current COVID-19 outbreak.The NRL has today confirmed that Game I of the 2021 State of Origin Series, scheduled to take place at the MCG on Wednesday June 9, has been relocated to Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium, as Victoria undergoes a circuit-breaker lockdown to contain the spread of the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Fans who had purchased tickets to the match at the MCG will receive a refund, while the MCG will now host State of Origin matches in 2024 and 2026.
National Rugby League (NRL) Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Abdo, said that while he is disappointed that the series opener cannot be played in Melbourne, public safety remains the NRL’s number one concern.
"We're very disappointed that we can't open the series at the MCG. We really wanted to bring a major event to Melbourne after everything Victorians have been through over the last year," Mr Abdo said.
"Public safety is our absolute priority and given the current outbreak, it remains uncertain whether we could host a mass gathering in Melbourne next week.
"We're excited to confirm that Origin will return to Melbourne in both 2024 and 2026."
The annual Dreamtime at the ‘G match between Essendon and Richmond has also been relocated amid Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions. The match, scheduled for Saturday June 5, will be relocated to Perth’s Optus Stadium.
Dreamtime at the ‘G is the marquee match of the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, which celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to football. Traditionally hosted by the MCG, last year’s match was played at TIO Stadium in Darwin due to Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions.
“As we continue to navigate the ongoing situation in Victoria, along with the relevant state border restrictions currently in place across the country, we have made the decision to move the match to Optus Stadium,” AFL Executive General Manager Finance, Clubs and Broadcast, Travis Auld, said.
“While it is disappointing we have had to relocate this game from the MCG, we are equally excited to showcase this important celebration to Western Australian footy fans.”
The Carlton v West Coast Eagles match scheduled to take place at the MCG on Sunday June 6 will now be held at Sydney's SCG.
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