The first-ever official AFL game ever played outside Australia or New Zealand, one involving premiership points, may not come off as planned should the historic match between Port Adelaide and Gold Coast scheduled for May 14 in Shanghai be relocated to the Sun’s Metricon Stadium out of a concern over rising political tensions on the international level.
The game had been scheduled to be played at Jiangwan Sports Stadium, but for now, the teams are relying on the diplomatic expertise of the Australian Government for advice pertaining to the safety of the teams as they travel to a region where escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea might lead the teams to exercise prudence in the decision of traveling to a nearby area in Shanghai.
Speaking to reporters, Port Adelaide Power chief executive Keith Thomas told the AAP, “Clearly you can’t ignore the circumstances that prevail in the world today and they’re in a region that’s sensitive to China and where we will be. Right now, we have had no advice to suggest that the game is at risk or we shouldn’t be going. We’ll just keep bowling along until we’re told otherwise.”
Foreign athletes are high-profile targets for those wanting to make a political statement, and always have been, with perhaps no more poignant example than the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, where 11 Israeli representatives were taken hostage and killed by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September.