Fans will be in attendance at this weekend’s AFL Showdown.
Fans will be in attendance at this weekend’s AFL Showdown.

SA fans returning to AFL but protests shut down

The AFL 2020 season returns tomorrow night when Collingwood and Richmond lock horns at the MCG.

After being shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the on-field action is back but the majority of games will be played in front of empty stands.

Six games over the opening weekend will be without fans after the Queensland and Victorian governments refused to budge on coronavirus restrictions.

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But in South Australia a crowd of 2000 will be allowed into Adelaide Oval for the Showdown between Port Adelaide and the Crows.

The decision to allow spectators at the first AFL game in South Australia since the outbreak of coronavirus comes before more changes to COVID-19 restrictions are expected to be outlined later this week.

South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the crowd would occupy the general admission area but a further 240 people would be admitted to private rooms. Mr Stevens added the numbers would allow for significant social distancing at Saturday's match.

"The Adelaide Oval has a comprehensive plan that effectively and safely manages the movement of people throughout the stadium," the commissioner told reporters on Tuesday.

"It's not just a free-for-all for 2000 people to mingle and move together.

"I know they have a plan in place that will separate these groups substantially."

The AFL is back!
The AFL is back!

However, the decision has caused some unrest with SA Police not granting an exemption for a Black Lives Matter protest in the city this weekend.

SA Police granted an exemption for last weekend's protest, which allowed roughly 6000 people to march through the city, but Stevens said that was a "once off".

"We've given a significant opportunity for people to have their voices heard - that's been achieved," he said.

"We're asking so many other people to contain or curtail their activities in the community, and I think it's reasonable we expect that from those people now."

A second rally has already been set up online with more than 1000 people saying they'll be attending. Stevens said those who defied the order this weekend would run the risk of being handed notices.

"People who are attending now do so running the risk that they may be given an expiation notice or further actions," the Commissioner said.

Protesters participate in a Black Lives Matter rally in Adelaide.
Protesters participate in a Black Lives Matter rally in Adelaide.

Tickets to the Showdown will be allocated through a ballot system with Port Adelaide holding the majority of tickets as the home team.

Adelaide chief executive Andrew Fagan said while only a small number of Crows supporters would be at the game he was confident "they'll make their presence felt".

"I'm sure the players will appreciate it," he said.

Commissioner Stevens said spectators would be required to enter and leave the oval in small groups.

South Austrailan Premier Steven Marshall said it would be exciting to have a crowd at the Showdown and described the decision as a good result.

"It will give us a lot of information that we can base further decisions on in regard to crowds at sport going forward," he said.

"I know people are very keen to have spectators back at sport right across South Australia." Mr Marshall said the further decisions to be revealed later this week would provide for more relief from coronavirus measures and would also provide some clarity on when SA would move to stage three.

Originally published as Fans return to AFL but protests shut down

News Corp Australia

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