Australian Open to allow up to 30,000 fans a day
The Australian Open will be allowed to admit up to 30,000 fans a day as the Grand Slam gets underway on February 8. Victoria state sports minister Martin Pakula informed about the development on Saturday. Pakula said the announcement would ensure some of the biggest crowds for a sporting event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is more.
Speaking to reporters, Pakula stated, "Over 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."
It is understood that the limit of spectators will be reduced from 30,000 to 25,000 over the last five days of the tournament when there are fewer matches. Notably, Victoria has been able to contain COVID-19 after enduring one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world. It has been 24 days since Victoria reported a locally acquired COVID-19 infection.
Australia have reported no community case for a 13th straight day on Saturday. More than 1,000 people, players and their entourages, were obliged to undergo 14 days of quarantine upon their arrival in Australia ahead of the year's first Grand Slam. As many as 72 players remained in strict lockdown after fellow passengers on their flights tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
Local health authorities, on Saturday, said they are still managing five active COVID-19 cases connected to the tennis, one of them being a player. Spain's Paula Badosa, who had tested positive in Melbourne, still needs to complete her quarantine.
Tournament chief Craig Tiley recently said he was "proud" of the "playing group", most of whom will be out of quarantine by Saturday. "I've seen a few of them this morning and contrary to what some players said 10 days ago, the majority of them, 99.9%, are happy to be out and very appreciative of our efforts to protect them," he said.
Recently, three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray withdrew from the Australian Open. Murray had tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before flying to Melbourne. The 33-year-old was later asymptomatic, and hoped to compete in the event. However, he was unable to agree upon a "workable quarantine". Murray, who had been quarantining in the UK, would have faced another 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Melbourne.