The NRL has canvassed the possibility of holding the first State of Origin game in Canberra as the scheduled Adelaide Oval fixture could fall foul of South Australia’s strict quarantine laws.
Although Origin making its Canberra Stadium debut is just speculation at this point – with no official talks between the NRL or Venues Canberra – the state of the Territory makes it an appealing destination for the 4 November game.
There have been no new cases of COVID-19 in the ACT for more than three weeks, and there are currently no active cases in the Territory.
While no one from the NRL has approached the ACT Government regarding the State of Origin, Region Media understands Venues Canberra has written to the NRL about setting up a meeting in the coming days to speak about the proposal.
The NRL will make a call on whether or not the game will go ahead at Adelaide Oval within the next four weeks. It may even go ahead without any fans present at the stadium.
However, the bigger problem is with South Australia’s border restrictions. People arriving from NSW or the ACT have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, while Victorian residents – and even South Australians in Victoria – are not allowed into the state without an exemption.
However, the ACT has also closed its borders to Victorians, and the ACT Government has never indicated that exemptions would be granted for sports players, which could complicate the matter.
Should the game come to Canberra, up to 1,500 fans could attend Canberra’s inaugural Origin match under the current health guidelines. However, this is in contrast to the 5,000 spectators allowed at Adelaide Oval under the one person per two square metre rule with the option of expanding this to 50 per cent capacity – or 25,000.
The Government has postponed the easing of restrictions to stage three, which would allow 25 per cent of a stadium’s capacity, or around 6,500 fans in this case, due to the uncertainty of the situation in Victoria and the Greater Sydney region.
The ACT’s Chief Health Officer is set to make her decision on whether the Territory will move to stage three this Thursday, however, the Chief Minister flagged that any movement was unlikely in a health update last week.