MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It was third time lucky for three Melbourne A-League teams trying to leave the coronavirus-hit city of Melbourne so the soccer league can restart its season.
With other states closing their borders to Victoria state due to an increase in COVID-19 infections, players and team officials from the Melbourne Victory, Western United and Melbourne City tried to leave Melbourne last Monday and beat the shutdown deadline by a few hours.
But fog at the airport of their intended destination in Canberra forced the players off the plane and back to their homes. They tried again the following night but left the airport disappointed when officials decided not to depart when they were told they’d have to spend 14 days in quarantine and not be able to train.
The approximately 120 players and staff from three teams finally arrived in Sydney on a charter flight Saturday after the New South Wales government granted an exemption to the three teams.
All players and officials had to take a coronavirus test before they departed and will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine. But in a compromise, the teams will be allowed to train but not play any matches.
A match set for July 16 between the Victory and Western United will have to be rescheduled due to the quarantine period, That means the July 17 match between Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix in Sydney will be the first game played since the league was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There are 27 regular-season matches to be played, followed by playoffs. League officials hope the A-League champion will be determined by the end of August.
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