AFL and netball teams flee Melbourne cases

Carlton have been forced to change travel plans for their AFL clash with Sydney.
Carlton have been forced to change travel plans for their AFL clash with Sydney.

Sporting teams have rushed to get out of Melbourne as case numbers grow in the city's latest COVID-19 outbreak, with a host of Victorian AFL teams put into lockdown.

The Melbourne-centric AFL has been hardest hit with Essendon and Carlton players and staffers scrambling to get on interstate flights before weekend matches.

Remaining Victorian-based AFL clubs will face new restrictions for the next seven days with players and staffers only permitted out for playing, training and essentials.

The Blues contingent received coronavirus tests before heading to Sydney on Wednesday while the Bombers will be tested on arrival in Perth and will isolate until they receive negative results.

Hawthorn will leave a day earlier than planned for their Darwin clash with Gold Coast.

The hasty departures come as health authorities order fans who attended two AFL games to get a COVID-19 test and isolate until they return a negative result.

A person who has since tested positive attended last Sunday's fixture between Collingwood and Port Adelaide while another was at the Sunday match at Marvel Stadium between Essendon and North Melbourne.

Marvel Stadium is set to host a top-of-the-table clash between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs on Friday night - the first of four AFL games in the Victorian capital this weekend.

Acting Victorian premier James Merlino said AFL games would go ahead with crowds in Melbourne, but that could change if the outbreak worsens.

"This is subject to how we go over the next 24 hours. We have got a critical period in front of us," Merlino told reporters on Wednesday.

The NRL is unaffected with the Melbourne Storm already out of Victoria and announcing Wednesday they will extend their two-week stay on the Sunshine Coast, where they spent most of last season en route to their premiership.

Melbourne Vixens will leave for Brisbane immediately rather than travel on Friday as scheduled for their round five Super Netball clash against the Queensland Firebirds, however, Collingwood will stick to their Saturday flight to Sydney.

The NBL has rescheduled some round 20 matches with Saturday's clash between the South East Melbourne Phoenix and Cairns Taipans that was to be played at John Cain Arena moved to Friday night in Cairns.

Monday's match between Melbourne United and Cairns Taipans that was also to be played at John Cain Arena will now also be played in the Cairns Pop-Up Arena.

"Both Melbourne teams are likely to be competing in the finals and temporarily relocating them gives them the best chance of being able to participate in the finals uninterrupted," said NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger.

The Melbourne Rebels relocated to Sydney on Wednesday night on the advice of SANZAAR and plan to fly out to Queenstown on Saturday, a day before their Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash with the Highlanders.

Australian Associated Press