Australian Open: 50% crowd allowed with surge in COVID-19 cases
Only 50% of spectators will be allowed to attend the Australian Open, starting January 17, as COVID-19 cases continue to soar in Melbourne. The Victorian government informed about the development on Thursday. Meanwhile, face masks are mandatory at the first Grand Slam of this year. Notably, similar restrictions were in place during the 2021 edition of the tournament. Here are further details.
Here is the official statement
"As COVID-19 hospitalisations and cases continue to rise in Victoria, these mitigation strategies are proportionate and designed to assist in limiting the spread of COVID-19," the Victorian government said in a statement. "Face masks will be mandatory for all patrons, except when eating or drinking, and the event will align with Victoria's statewide COVID-safe settings," added the statement.
Victoria reported over 37,000 COVID-19 cases on Thursday
On Thursday, Victoria logged 37,169 cases of COVID-19. A total of 25 deaths were recorded, and 953 people were hospitalized. Notably, all players and staff members at the Australian Open, other than those with exemptions, must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
Restrictions in last year's Australian Open
The Victorian government had announced similar COVID-19 restrictions before the start of the 2021 Australian Open. However, a five-day lockdown was imposed in the city to contain a new COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, the matches were held behind closed doors. After a few days, the Australian Open became the first Grand Slam to welcome spectators (in reduced numbers) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The saga of Novak Djokovic's vaccine exemption
The controversy regarding Novak Djokovic made headlines ahead of the Australian Open. Serbian tennis star, Djokovic, had arrived in Australia a week ago with a vaccine exemption. However, the border authorities canceled his visa upon arrival. The world number one was sent to immigration detention before his lawyers filed an appeal. Although his team won the case, Australia's immigration minister could re-cancel Djokovic's visa.
Australian Open 2022: Here are the key details
World's top tennis stars are set to compete at this year's first Grand Slam, the Australian Open. The prestigious hard-court tournament will kick off on January 17 at Melbourne Park. It will be the 110th edition of the tournament, is held annually in January. Djokovic (men's) and Naomi Osaka (women's) are the defending champions in the singles category.