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Australian Open gets green light for fan attendance

Up to 30,000 fans per day will be allowed to attend this year’s edition of the Australian Open grand slam tennis tournament, which gets underway next week.

The figure is around half of the usual attendance, with the cap having been imposed due to ongoing restrictions relating to COVID-19. Martin Pakula, Sports Minister for the State of Victoria, confirmed the news on Saturday.

The 30,000 cap will be reduced to 25,000 for the final five days of the tournament, when fewer matches are taking place. The tournament will be held in Melbourne from February 8-21.

Speaking to reporters at Melbourne Park, Pakula said: “It’ll mean that over the 14 days, we will have up to 390,000 people here at Melbourne Park and that’s about 50% of the average over the last three years.

“It will not be the same as the last few years, but it will be the most significant international event with crowds that the world has seen in many, many months.”

Preparations for the Australian Open have been far from ideal after 72 players were forced to quarantine last month after entering the country on flights which included passengers that tested positive for COVID-19.

All players have now been able to leave quarantine and are free to practice ahead of the start of the tournament next Monday.

The confirmed attendance cap comes after Tennis Australia in December set out an initial plan for 25% capacity at the three main stadia for the tournament, launching a zone-based ticket scheme focused on these venues.

Melbourne Park precinct is to be divided into three zones, each including one of the three major arenas – Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena. Tennis Australia said each zone will offer its own unique combination of tennis action, live experiences and the culinary offerings for which Melbourne is renowned.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Wimbledon grand slam are reportedly due to detail attendance plans for this summer’s tournament over the coming days.

Last year’s edition of Wimbledon was cancelled due to COVID-19, marking the first time since World War Two that the tournament did not go ahead. This year’s event is scheduled to go ahead as planned and the Daily Mail has reported that around 30% of the tournament’s 40,000-a-day capacity could be permitted.

The Mail, citing a letter to local residents’ associations and councillors from tournament organisers, added that three scenarios are being considered for the tournament: full capacity, reduced capacity and a behind-closed-doors event.

Wimbledon is due to take place from June 28 to July 11.

Image: Global-cityzen/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size