India tour of Australia 2020: Spike in Covid-19 cases casts shadow on MCG boxing day Test

A spike in Covid-19 cases in the Australian state of Victoria has increased doubts over the India-Australia Boxing Day Test being held in its capital Melbourne, from December 26. Victoria had 75 new cases on Monday, prompting health officials in Queensland, which has had few new cases recently and closed its borders with the rest of Australia, to enact tough new protocols.

The spurt comes when Australia and Zimbabwe have agreed to postpone three One-day Internationals scheduled in August. Zimbabwe were due to play the first match at an undecided venue in north Australia on August 9, with a further clash three days later and a final fixture in Townsville on August 15.

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Cricket Australia (CA) said in a statement that the decision was mutually agreed and that they remained committed to playing the series on “alternative dates”.

Having already furloughed a major chunk of its employees, CA is depending heavily on the year-ending four-match Test series against India to boost its dwindling finances. India are scheduled to play four Tests, starting December 3, in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Should the infection spread in Victoria, CA could be forced to look at alternative venues.

New protocol

Queensland has issued new directives that force teams based in the state into a 14-day quarantine should they play a club in Melbourne.

But Queensland clubs would also be forced into quarantine if they either played in Melbourne, or came up against any team that had been in Melbourne in the preceding 14 days.

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Australian Football League has 10 teams based in Victoria. Six AFL clubs have already been impacted by schedule changes. The Rugby League is in a better position because it has only one club based in Victoria—the Melbourne Storm, who are expecting to stay in their new Sunshine Coast hub in Queensland until at least August.

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