COVID chaos: Hodge, Carey told to leave Cats clash
The AFL season is again on edge after a COVID-19 mystery case in Brisbane.
Friday night's Brisbane-Geelong match in Geelong proceeded only after the AFL obtained a last-minute exemption for the Lions.
The new footy drama emerged after a positive case of the highly contagious UK variant was detected in Brisbane.
It sparked the Victorian government at 6.45pm to order anyone who has been in Brisbane from March 12 to immediately isolate until they received a negative result.
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That decision, less than an hour before the 7.50pm start of the clash at GMHBA Stadium, resulted in fans who had been in Brisbane ordered from the stadium by a government health alert on the scoreboard.
Former Hawthorn and Lions champion Luke Hodge, who was broadcasting for Channel 7, was told to leave the commentary box because he had flown in from Brisbane.
Another Channel 7 commentator, North Melbourne great Wayne Carey, also left the ground because he had been at a function in Brisbane on March 14.
Channel 7 Melbourne managing director Lewis Martin said that as soon the station became aware of the government health advice via Twitter it responded, and asked Hodge and Carey to exit the stadium.
"They'll be tested in the morning as per the advice and any citizen in Queensland in the advised time," Mr Martin said. "That was done as soon as we were aware and out they went."
The AFL also moved quickly to isolate Lions officials. The club's media team was removed from the press area where they had set up to cover the game.
The Herald Sun understands the AFL will now be looking at next week's fixture.
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan admitted he was concerned Friday night's game wasn't going ahead but kept the COVID controversy away from his players.
"I wasn't sure, I thought there was a chance it could be called off," Fagan said. "I'm glad it wasn't as it was one of the better games of Aussie Rules football you'll ever see but I thought that was a possibility yes.
"It wasn't something that I think affected the way we played, I'm not sure if the players knew about it but it certainly wasn't a topic of conversation between myself and the players before the game."
Fagan said his team would wait for direction from the AFL but understood there may be a possibility that they don't return home.
The Lions are scheduled to play Collingwood in a blockbuster Gabba clash on Thursday night.
"We have not received any information from the AFL, we're flying back tomorrow but that could change as we know," Fagan said.
"Life changes pretty quickly these days but I have no idea. We will just be ready to do whatever we have to do. "It is amazing how quickly things can change."
COVID tests for the entire Brisbane AFLW team taken on Friday were to decide the fate of their Saturday clash against Melbourne at Casey Fields.
The Lions players were told to remain in their hotel rooms on Friday night.
The decision by the Victorian government, which has thrown the AFL season into disarray, came more than seven hours after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the mystery Brisbane case.
At 11.30am Victorian time, Ms Palaszczuk revealed a new case of COVID-19 community transmission had been detected in Brisbane.
A 26-year-old man from Stafford in Brisbane's north tested positive on Thursday night after spending three days in the community while unknowingly infectious.
Ms Palaszczuk later revealed that genomic testing had linked the case with a previous cluster announced on March 12.
Boos echo around GMHBA Stadium as fans who have arrived in Victoria from Queensland on or after March 12 are told over the PA to leave the stadium immediately #AFLCatsLions— Lachie Young (@lachie_young) March 26, 2021
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said it was likely that an "unidentified intermediary" had passed the virus on to the Stafford man.
She said that the Stafford man was "highly contagious".
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan told 3AW's Neil Mitchell earlier this month that the
league had relaxed quarantine protocols, which in the pre-season resulted in players being tested every week.
The consequence of this is the league cannot say with certainty players have tested negative in recent weeks.
The league's state government exemption, granted because officials and players had been "living and abiding by approved AFL protocols", did not include regular COVID testing.
Originally published as COVID chaos: Hodge, Carey told to leave Cats clash