Australia’s Boxing Day Test against arch rival England and next year’s Australian Open tennis will be played before a full house, Melbourne authorities said on Thursday as they removed more pandemic restrictions.
Victoria Premier Dan Andrews said that the State was about to hit 90 percent vaccination, allowing long-standing restrictions to be swept aside, including capacity limits on sporting events. How many spectators, if any, would be allowed into the cavernous 100,000 capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for the third Ashes Test had been up in the air.
The crowd for last summer’s Boxing Day Test against India was capped at 30,000 per day due to the pandemic.
The five-Test Ashes series will start in Brisbane on December 8 before moving to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and ending in Perth.
Andrews’ decision was also good news for tennis fans. The first tennis Grand Slam of 2022 is due to start on January 17 at Melbourne Park, which will also be allowed a full capacity crowd.
The tournament was hit hard this year with limited crowds and a five-day snap lockdown called mid-event. But whether a full contingent of tennis stars will make the trip to Melbourne remains to be seen. Authorities have warned that unvaccinated players are unlikely to get visas, throwing defending champion Novak Djokovic’s participation into serious doubt.
The World No. 1 has publicly voiced opposition to vaccines and refused to say whether he has been jabbed against coronavirus.
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