Tennis

Australian Open crowds to be capped at 50% due to Omicron surge in Melbourne


Crowds at the Australian Open will be capped at 50% after a surge in Covid cases prompted the Victorian government into a last-minute change of its ticketing policy.

Ticket sales for the year’s opening grand slam tennis tournament in Melbourne will be restricted to 50% capacity for sessions which have not already sold more than that.

In a statement, the Victorian government said already-purchased tickets will remain valid, and there would be no changes to ground pass access.

“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,” the statement read.

“This includes a density limit of one person per two square metres for all indoor hospitality.

“Ventilation will be improved in indoor areas of Melbourne Park, with HEPA filters to be installed in some spaces after a ventilation assessment is completed for the venue.

“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 build-up to this year’s Open has been overshadowed by the saga surrounding defending champion Novak Djokovic.

The world No 1, who spent four days in an immigration detention hotel after his Australian visa was cancelled by border officials, remains in limbo, despite winning a court challenge against the decision earlier this week.

Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, is yet to decide whether to use his personal powers to deport the unvaccinated star.

Victoria recorded 37,169 cases of Covid on Thursday, three days out from the start of the tournament, with 25 deaths recorded and 953 people in hospital.

“These updates to arrangements for the Australian Open will mean that fans, players and the workforce can look forward to a terrific Covid-safe event in Australia’s event capital,” said Jaala Pulford, the acting minister for tourism, sport and major events.

“Melbourne Park is the best place on the planet to watch the tennis and thousands of spectators will be able to experience the iconic Australian Open from Monday.”

Last year’s tournament was also played in front of reduced crowds due to the pandemic.

Tennis Australia has been contacted for comment.



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