‘Huge gamble’: AFL crowd causes panic
There wasn't even a Western Australian team on show but that didn't stop 22,077 footy fans packing in to Perth's Optus Stadium last night.
Because of a COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria, Collingwood and Geelong slugged it out 2700km from home as part of a revised fixture that has seen the AFL send its Melbourne-based clubs on the road.
But not everyone in Perth was happy to have them.
A poll of almost 2000 WA nurses in the lead-up to the game found 94 per cent opposed the mass gathering, deeming it "too risky" following recent coronavirus spikes across the country.
Australian Nursing Federation Secretary Mark Olson said allowing a crowd of up to 30,000 was "clearly a risk" and his thoughts were echoed by the Australian Medical Association's WA president Dr Andrew Miller who described the event as a "huge gamble".
"What we're betting with is the health and livelihood of the whole of Western Australia," he said.
Safety measures were put in place as every second row was left empty and every toilet and food and drink stall opened to minimise queuing.
Masks were also encouraged although few were seen in the stands.
Pitch invasions were considered to be a breach of quarantine rules and result in a fine of up to $50,000, but that didn't stop one man from charging the field.
The match was the first played in front of fans at the ground since West Coast hosted Essendon last September.
Optus Stadium is expected to be at the full 30,000 limit when the Eagles play the Dockers in a local derby on Sunday afternoon.
Matches have also been scheduled for next weekend. The Eagles host the Magpies on Sunday, July 26, before the Dockers play the Cats the following day.
Originally published as 'Huge gamble': AFL crowd causes panic