Cricket-Perth Ashes test in doubt due to COVID-19 curbs - minister

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Australia v England - Ashes test match - WACA Ground, Perth, Australia, December 17, 2017 - A rainbow can be seen above a screen announcing that play has been abandoned on the fourth day of the third Ashes cricket test match. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Perth may not be able to hold an Ashes test over Australia's home summer due to COVID-19 restrictions, sports minister Richard Colbeck said on Tuesday.

Perth is scheduled to host the fifth and final test from Jan. 14 but Colbeck said the Western Australia (WA) capital might have to miss out because of the state's quarantine requirements.

Colbeck told Perth radio station 6PR players would not want to quarantine for 14 days in Western Australia as would be required if they played the preceding fourth test as scheduled in Sydney.

"We've had to do a lot of work to organise quarantine arrangements for cricketers coming into Australia,” Colbeck said.

"There's serious questions about whether there'll be a test match in Perth this summer.

"If there's no chance of coming here without prolonged quarantine, it just won’t occur."

The Ashes starts in Brisbane on Dec. 8, followed by tests in Adelaide (Dec. 16), Melbourne (Dec. 26) and Sydney (Jan. 5).

Cricket Australia (CA) said it was planning for all tests as scheduled.

England players have threatened to pull out of the series if forced to adhere to Australia's strict quarantine regime and have sought assurances that their families will be able to travel to Australia and tour with them.

Australia's COVID-19 situation has thrown the schedule into doubt, with COVID-free Western Australia loath to open its borders while other states battle outbreaks.

Australia's federal government released a vague plan in July to start easing quarantine restrictions and inter-state travel curbs once 70% of adults are vaccinated, likely by the end of October according to official projections.

But WA and Queensland, of which Brisbane is the capital, have said they may keep borders shut for longer to avoid the risk of their health systems being overwhelmed by COVID outbreaks.

WA Cricket boss Christina Matthews said the sport's state governing body had asked CA to move the Perth match forward in the schedule to avoid the quarantine snag.

“We know it is under real threat,” Matthews told The West Australian newspaper.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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