The AFL Aussie rules football league remains confident that its upcoming landmark game in China will go ahead as scheduled, but a contingency plan is in place for the Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium to stage the match if required.
Gold Coast and Port Adelaide are due to face off at Shanghai’s Jiangwan Sports Stadium on May 14, in what will mark the first regular-season AFL game played outside of Australia and New Zealand.
Earlier this week, Port Adelaide’s chief executive Keith Thomas said ongoing political tensions between the United States and North Korea could have an influence on whether or not the game goes ahead, stating that “you can’t ignore the circumstances that prevail in the world today.”
Thomas maintained that the club had received no evidence to suggest that the game is at risk. Port Adelaide later released a statement saying it “strongly refutes” media speculation suggesting that the game is in danger.
The AFL itself is also confident that the game will go ahead as scheduled. “The AFL has always had Metricon Stadium as a contingency venue for this match, but we remain confident the Shanghai game will go ahead as planned,” Travis Auld, chief financial officer and general manager of league clubs, said in a statement to AFL.com.au.
“The AFL will continue to work closely with the Australian Government and the People’s Republic of China to deliver our first game in China for premiership points. We would, of course, take advice from the Australian Government on any international matters.”
The Shanghai game will act as a home game for Gold Coast. Should the game end up being cancelled, it would be staged at the 25,000-capacity Metricon Stadium, the team’s home ground.
The Jiangwan Sports Stadium hosted an AFL exhibition match back in 2010 but next month will mark the first time it has staged a regular-season fixture.