Sport celebrates WA’s March 3 reopening

Justin Chadwick |

Perth is set to enjoy a huge influx of sporting action next month after Western Australia announced it would reopen its border on March 3.

The announcement from WA Premier Mark McGowan on Friday was good news for AFL clubs West Coast and Fremantle, A-League outfit Perth Glory, NBL heavyweights Perth Wildcats, Super Netball’s West Coast Fever, and Super Rugby club Western Force.

McGowan initially locked in February 5 as the State’s reopening, but that plan was canned once Omicron cases soared in other parts of the country.

The March 3 reopening means teams can arrive in Perth without having to quarantine.

Incoming players and staff will still need to be triple vaccinated – if eligible – and pass a Rapid Antigen Test upon arrival.

Perth’s major stadiums, including Optus Stadium, RAC Arena, and HBF Park, will be capped at 75 per cent capacity.

The border announcement means the AFL season can go ahead as planned, with West Coast to host Gold Coast at Optus Stadium on March 20.

A crowd of up to 45,000 can attend the match. 

AFLW sides West Coast and Fremantle are already hosting games in Perth under strict COVID conditions, and the border reopening will make it easier for rival teams to make the trek to Perth.

Perth Glory’s men’s side last played at home in November, but they are hoping for a run of up to eight consecutive home matches when they return.

Glory will ‘host’ three games in Tasmania this month before flying back home, possibly as early as February 28.

The need for incoming teams to be triple vaccinated looms as a potential problem, but Glory chief executive Tony Pignata hopes something can be worked out.

“We’re working with the league and the other clubs that are coming in to ensure they are triple vaxxed,” Pignata said.

“We are still waiting for the chief health officer to give us maybe some sort of exemption for a few weeks, because it takes some time to get everyone vaxxed during a season.

“We’re hopeful we can get a month or so, and that will allow us to get everyone vaxxed.”

A big number of Glory players were struck down by COVID-19 while the team were on the road, and Pignata said everyone was relieved to hear about WA’s border reopening.

“They’re all aching to get back home and be with their family and friends and to get back to some normality and sleeping in their own beds,” he said.

Glory’s women’s side have just three more regular-season matches remaining, meaning it’s unlikely they will get the chance to host another game in Perth this campaign.

The Western Force will start their season on Sunday against the Brumbies in Canberra.

But their round three home match against the Queensland Reds – set for March 4 – can now go ahead without any quarantine requirements.

The border reopening will make it easier for the Perth Wildcats and Perth Lynx to host a string of games, after having spent long periods on the road this season.

West Coast Fever’s netball season opener against Sunshine Coast Lightning is on March 27 – more than three weeks after the hard border falls.