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Coronavirus set to scuttle Port's China game

Football

Port Adelaide and the AFL say they won’t be commenting on widespread reports the Power’s much-vaunted match against St Kilda in Shanghai has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears.

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The announcement has been widely anticipated, with several media outlets now reporting the May 31 fixture has been called off – but official confirmation isn’t expected until tomorrow.

A spokesman for Port Adelaide said “there will not be an announcement today so we won’t be making any comment” – a position reiterated by the AFL.

However, it’s expected the match will instead be played in Australia, with Marvel Stadium appearing the most likely option for what is formally a Saints home game.

The cancellation – with official confirmation expected to be a formality tomorrow – is unlikely to spell the end of Port’s endeavours in China, despite the impending exit of its chief strategist Andrew Hunter.

The Power has invested several years in establishing revenue streams from China, with the annual fixture not considered a major element of the overall strategy.

The Australian reported today that the Federal Government’s Festival of Asia trade and investment fair – which coincides with the Power’s Shanghai fixture – would also be cancelled.

Port president David Koch told the paper “contingency plans” were being drawn up with the AFL and “as to a final decision we have got to do it in the very near future”.

“We are taking advice from the federal government… but when you see the spread of the virus at the moment to other countries you would think that there is more of a chance of it not going ahead than going ahead.”

News Corp, FoxSports and Channel 7 have all reported that the Jiangwan Stadium fixture has been scrapped for the 2020 season.

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