NOT THIS YEAR: Port Adelaide and St Kilda players run through the banner together to celebrate last year’s AFL match in China. This year’s repeat contest has been rescheduled to Melbourne due to the coronavirus. Picture: DAVID MARIUZ (AAP),
NOT THIS YEAR: Port Adelaide and St Kilda players run through the banner together to celebrate last year’s AFL match in China. This year’s repeat contest has been rescheduled to Melbourne due to the coronavirus. Picture: DAVID MARIUZ (AAP),

Port abandons China game amid virus fears

Port Adelaide's annual China expedition is officially off, with this year's clash against St Kilda moved to Melbourne's Marvel Stadium.

The AFL has been forced to cancel the round 11 Shanghai game at Adelaide Arena, Jiangwan, because of the coronavirus, which continues to sweep the globe.

The match - which was to be played on Sunday, May 31 - has been rescheduled to Sunday, June 7 at Marvel, which is the Saints home ground.

It will be played as a twilight night game (5.10pm) - the day before the public holiday for Queen's Birthday - in the Power and St Kilda's previous bye round.

The holiday will allow greater access for fans.

 

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The two clubs will now have their bye in round 11 instead of round 12.

Port chief executive Keith Thomas said the AFL had no choice but to put the China game on ice for 12 months because of coronavirus.

Tickets purchased for the match in Shanghai will be refunded.

Thomas said the Power remained committed to playing in Shanghai in 2021.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the decision to abandon the China experiment for a year was made after advice from the Australian Government, the World Health Organisation and the league's chief medical officer.

Port Adelaide has won its three clashes in China. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos.
Port Adelaide has won its three clashes in China. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos.

"It is evident that the coronavirus still poses a significant risk internationally and quite simply we will not compromise the health and safety of any of our clubs, supporters and AFL team members,'' he said at an announcement in Melbourne on Wednesday afternoon.

"I would like to thank both the Australian and Chinese governments, along with the St Kilda and Port Adelaide football clubs for their co-operation and shared view of ensuring the health and safety of all was paramount."

St Kilda will now play nine of its first 11 games at Marvel Stadium.

The only other match scheduled on June 7 is premier Richmond against North Melbourne at the MCG from 1.40pm.

The Victorian State Government also has got involved to support the match with a focus on celebrating Chinese culture in the absence of a match in Shanghai.

The global death toll from the coronavirus was more than 3100 by Wednesday, from a total of almost 93,000 confirmed cases.

Under current travel ban laws, those travelling from China to Australia must spend 14 days in another country before returning.

The Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix in Shanghai, scheduled for April 17-19, is among a host of events that have been postponed due to the virus outbreak.

Port has played in China in each of the past three years - as the "away'' team - winning each time.

It beat Gold Coast by 72 points in 2017 and 40 points in 2018 and St Kilda by 69 points last season.



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