Perth’s hopes of hosting the fifth Ashes Test were in serious doubt Tuesday after Western Australia’s premier said players and broadcasters must quarantine for 14 days on entering the state.
Cricket officials had been confident the potentially pivotal clash between Australia and England would go ahead in the city after suggestions that some of its tough Covid restrictions would be relaxed or exemptions granted.
But the emergence of the new Omicron coronavirus variant has complicated matters and Premier Mark McGowan indicated the state’s hardline quarantine rules would remain.
Canberra and Hobart have both expressed interest in hosting the match should Perth be axed, although a second Test in either Sydney or Melbourne are also options.
“The thing about the Ashes and Cricket Australia is we have put in place very strict rules," McGowan told reporters.
“We’ve said to them they need to have 14 days of quarantine and that has to apply to all of the broadcast staff, all the cricket staff."
The Perth Test is scheduled to start on January 14, five days after the fourth Test in Sydney, meaning a two-week quarantine period would not be possible.
McGowan stressed that players’ families would not be allowed in no matter what.
“They can’t just bring wives and girlfriends with them — the same rules as we put in place for the AFL (Australian Rules). It is up to them whether they want to adhere to those rules or not."
Australian media said the Melbourne Cricket Ground was the frontrunner to replace Perth, possibly under lights as a day-night match with the pink ball.
The Ashes gets under way next week in Brisbane before moving to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney ahead of Perth.