Australia’s upcoming Test match against India will go ahead at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) as originally scheduled, although the venue will operate at 25% of its usual capacity amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the city.

Cricket Australia confirmed last week that the New Year’s Test would remain in Sydney and the announcement of the restricted capacity was made earlier today. The stadium had originally been due to operate at 50% of its 48,000 capacity but this has now been further reduced.

The Test is due to get underway on Thursday and all members of both teams, along with support staff and match officials, have tested negative for COVID-19.

The decision to keep the New Year’s Test at its traditional venue was made following discussions over the impact of the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney. Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s interim chief executive, said that the decision was made following health advice from the New South Wales government, and following collaboration with governments in NSW and Queensland, where the fourth and final Test is due to be held.

The 25% attendance cap has been announced today following further advice from the NSW government, Cricket Australia and Venues NSW, with the safety of fans viewed as a priority. As a result, a revised socially distanced seating plan has been drawn up, with the match to be re-ticketed.

All fans who purchased tickets for the match will receive a full refund. Ticket holders will be given an exclusive window to repurchase tickets via Ticketek until tomorrow, with all remaining public tickets to be released at 12pm local time tomorrow.

Following today’s announcement, Hockley said: “In response to the public health situation in NSW, we are working closely with Venues NSW and NSW Health to put appropriate biosecurity measures in place for our staff, players, match officials, broadcasters and fans to ensure we play the third Test at the SCG safely.

“Reducing the capacity of the venue is crucial in achieving social distancing requirements, and we sincerely thank ticket holders for their patience, as we process refunds today, reconfigure the SCG seating plan to deliver these social distancing measures and go back on sale.”

Venues NSW chair Tony Shepherd added: “There are extensive protocols being enacted for the upcoming Test, including increased cleaning, customer service and security staff, along with dedicated social distancing marshals.

“The SCG is registered as a COVID Safe business with the NSW Government which allows exhaustive record keeping and QR code check-in protocols that will ensure the safety of our fans. We have a very safe stadium and will be doing everything we can to deliver this event safely, as we have at our venues in NSW for the entire year.”

The first two Tests of the Australia-India series were held at the Adelaide Oval and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. After the third Test at the SCG, the fourth and final Test will be held at the Gabba in Brisbane.

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