The Brisbane Heat was unable to enter Victoria, forcing their Big Bash League (BBL) match against the Melbourne Renegades to be moved to Canberra and played in behind closed doors. The match against has been moved from Marvel Stadium to Manuka Oval after Cricket Australia (CA) failed to get clearance for the Heat to enter Victoria despite Brisbane’s citywide lockdown set to be lifted this week.
The permit system is based on red, orange and green travel zones, which grade the risk of infection. People in red zones cannot enter Victoria unless they have an exemption, while those in orange zones are allowed to travel into but they must take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours upon arrival and isolate until a negative result is returned. Only those in green zones are allow for restriction-free travel.
CA hoped that exemptions will be given since all BBL players and officials have been restricted in a bio-secure bubble during the tournament, but the bio bubble is not a guarantee that matches can proceed as planned and it’s remain at the discretion of the relevant authority. CA’s Head of Big Bash Leagues Alistair Dobson said the venue change will “create certainty that this fixture can be delivered”.
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“Unfortunately, given the operational difficulties in providing a safe and secure environment for fans to attend at such short notice, including the ACT Government’s requirement that all tickets go off sale 24 hours prior to the match, tickets to this match will not be available to the public,” Dobson said. He also confirmed that the match will be played at an empty stadium.
“In addition, we will be shifting the Adelaide Strikers v Brisbane Heat match (from the MCG) to Adelaide Oval as a result of that venue being re-engaged at the back end of the tournament, a great reward for Strikers members and fans.” The relocation of the game means the first BBL match in Melbourne this summer will be on Friday night at the MCG between the Stars and Strikers.
Last week, state border closures have forced changes to the BBL schedule, with CA confirming the five remaining games that were to be held in Sydney have been shifted to either Adelaide or Melbourne, with Sydney missing out on hosting any regular-season games this summer due to the spike of coronavirus infection in the region.
Sydney Thunder vs Sydney Sixers, originally scheduled to be played at Sydney Showground Stadium will now be played on January followed by Sydney Sixers vs Perth Scorchers, originally scheduled to be played at Sydney Cricket Ground, 3 days after on January 16. Lastly, Sydney Thunder vs Hobart Hurricanes, originally scheduled to be played at Sydney Showground Stadium will now be on January 18.
Meanwhile, the venues for the BBL Finals, slated between January 29 and February 6, are yet to be confirmed. However, Dobson revealed in November the league would be open to playing them at neutral venues if necessary. At the time of writing, Australia have recorded 28,571 cases of the deadly virus, with less than a thousand deaths.
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