The Victorian sporting summer is gearing up to host crowds of spectators after large public gatherings were banned amid Covid-19.
Cricket Australia on Thursday announced the Boxing Day Test will host 25,000 fans at the MCG, sparking racing and tennis officials to push for bigger crowds at their events while implementing safety precautions.
The Australian Grand Prix is set to race in Melbourne in March 2021 and AGP chief executive Andrew Westacott was optimistic up to 60,000 fans could be in attendance.
Victorian sport event organisers are preparing for large crowds after lockdown. Australian Grand Prix CEO Andrew Westacott hopes 60,000 fans will go in 2021. Pictured: Valtteri Bottas takes the chequered flag during the F1 Grand Prix of Australia in Melbourne in March 2019
‘I think that is realistic but we will adapt to whatever the final numbers that are governed and dictated by the health authorities,’ he told Herald Sun.
Mr Westacott’s sentiment was backed by Australian Open tournament organisers, who are planning to host half the size of their normal crowds in January, which would allow 400,000 fans to attend the two week event.
Large crowds have started returning to professional sporting arenas in the AFL and NRL finals series, with 30,000 and 40,000 fans respectively at each Grand Final.
Mr Westacott said the grandstands and districts at Albert Park would be designed to safely accommodate huge numbers of fans in its 176ha precinct.
Australian Open tennis officials plan to host 400,000 fans over the two week event in January. Pictured: the crowd watches on as Novak Djokovic plays Rafael Nadal in the 2019 Australian Open final
‘We’ve got the level of flexibility to modify and create this venue to suit the number and if that is 40,000, great; if it’s 60,000, great,’ he said.
Fans will be required to follow health protocols to be in attendance of the events, which could include wearing face masks until they reach their seats.
‘Ultimately, it’s up to event organisers to present plans for crowds, in the same way that Cricket Australia has done, and for those plans to be assessed by the public health team based on the prevailing conditions,’ Victorian Sport Minister Martin Pakula said.
Racing and tennis authorities are working to organise bubbles for overseas sports stars to safely travel to their events and then limit their movements once on site.
Bubbles were used at the U.S. and French Open tennis events earlier this year, which included regular coronavirus testing, bans on sightseeing and eating out at restaurants and shuttles between hotels and tournament courts.
Cricket Australia on Thursday confirmed 25,000 fans could attend the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. Pictured: fans cheer at the 2018 Boxing Day Test at the MCG