AFL optimistic Dreamtime match will happen in Darwin

The AFL expects the annual Dreamtime match between Essendon and Richmond scheduled for Darwin in three weeks will still go ahead as the main drawcard for the annual Sir Doug Nicholls round.

However they are monitoring developments after the prospect of the match being played in the top end was thrown into doubt when the Northern Territory government declared three areas in Queensland were coronavirus hotspot areas for people wishing to travel to the territory.

One of those areas is the City of Brisbane. Both Essendon and Richmond play their round 12 matches at the Gabba in the week before they are scheduled to travel to Darwin.

The round 13 Bombers-Tigers match is scheduled to be played at night at TIO Stadium, as The Age first reported earlier this month, and has been labelled the Dreamtime in Darwin game.

Richmond and Essendon players line up together at Dreamtime at the ‘G last year.Credit:Getty Images

"This act clearly signalled that racial and religious vilification would no longer be tolerated in Australian Football. We continue to prioritise an inclusive environment for all people within the industry and focus on identifying strategies targeted at the prevention of vilification before it occurs."

This year's round, while continuing to celebrate Nicholls, will also recognise legend Syd Jackson's contribution to the game and the community.

Richmond and Essendon are both vying for finals spots with the game expected to play a significant role in shaping the final eight as the 17-round season draws to a conclusion.

The match will be played just weeks after the league had to apologise to the game’s Indigenous players and their families for any distress caused when a miscommunication led to Indigenous players being told they had to have pneumococcal vaccinations before entering Queensland.

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