Melbourne’s Ashes Test and Australian Open will welcome capacity crowds


England fans 2017
England last faced Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in a Test match in 2017

England’s Ashes Test against Australia in Melbourne and next year’s Australian Open tennis tournament will welcome full crowds after Covid-19 restrictions were eased in the state of Victoria.

State Premier Dan Andrews said there would no longer be limits on gatherings at major sporting events.

The five-Test Ashes series starts on 8 December at the Gabba in Brisbane, which at the moment can be 75% full.

Tennis’ first Grand Slam is due to begin on 17 January at Melbourne Park.

Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) has a capacity of 100,000 but Australia’s Test at the stadium against India in 2021 was capped at 30,000 fans per day due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The MCG traditionally hosts Test matches starting on 26 December, often referred to as the Boxing Day Test.

England and Australia last faced each other on Boxing Day in Melbourne four years ago, with Australia opener David Warner hitting a century on the opening day of the Test.

Each state in Australia has its own Covid-19 regulations with regards to how many fans are allowed in stadiums.

The Gabba can hold 41,974 spectators but Queensland rules currently state that a stadium with a capacity of more than 20,000 can only be three-quarters full.

The 53,500-capacity Adelaide Oval, which hosts the second Test from 16-20 December, will also be 75% full under current South Australia guidelines.

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The fourth and fifth Tests in Sydney (4-9 January) and Perth (14-18 January) are set for full crowds given there are no restrictions in New South Wales and Western Australia.

Earlier this year, the Australian Open was limited in spectator numbers and experienced a five-day snap lockdown in the middle of the event.

Authorities have warned, however, that unvaccinated players are unlikely to get visas to enter the state for the first Grand Slam tournament of 2022.

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