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Australian Open targets crowds of up to 50% capacity

The Australian Open is targeting crowds of up to 50 per cent capacity for the 2021 Grand Slam event at the 10,500-capacity Melbourne Park.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said he is hoping to allow between 2,625 and 5,250 fans into the tournament in January.

He confirmed that players, such as Roger Federer and Serena Williams, who have committed to the event, will be required to complete two weeks quarantine in a bubble, before an extended six-week series of tournaments in the country.

This year’s US Open was held without fans, while only 1,000 fans per day can attend the ongoing French Open.

However, Tiley said he is hopeful for larger crowds at Melbourne Park, as the venues will be classified as outdoor settings due to their retractable roofs.

He said, according to Sky Sports: “We’ve worked out, with the requirements on physical distancing, we’ve still got to stay in certain parameters, and we’ve worked out what that can be in the arena.

“We can have crowds from anywhere between 25 and 50 per cent of what we’ve had before. It’s a very outdoor site. The size of the site and the way we can physically distance people, we’ll enjoy having quite a few crowds.”

Tiley added that the Australian Open has “learnt a lot” from the running of the US Open with no crowds, and the French Open with small crowds.


More than 60,000 supporters could be allowed to enter ANZ Stadium on October 25 for Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) Grand Final game.

The NRL, which has already had 40,000-person attendance approved, could see crowds jump by 20,000 by increasing numbers allowed in private boxes.

The announcement comes after the Australian Turf Club and Racing NSW pushed to be granted an exemption from COVID-19 public health orders to have 15,000 punters at Randwick for Everest day. In a move that could also help the NRL, racing officials have applied to have the four-square-metre rule for each patron reduced to two square metres across Randwick on October 17.

The New South Wales (NSW) government gave its approval for the 40,000 attendance figure following an announcement in September that said grounds would be allowed to host up to 50 per cent capacity.

Following the announcement, the NRL moved the Grand Final from the 48,000-capacity Sydney Cricket Ground to the 83,500-capacity ANZ Stadium to get more fans through the doors.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo, said: “ANZ Stadium is the biggest venue in NSW and that means more of our fans will be able to experience Grand Final Day live.”

“We can’t wait to see 40,000 fans at the venue. Our fans have been so patient and loyal throughout the season and having crowd caps increase for the finals aeries is the perfect way to acknowledge that loyalty.

“This year has been the most unpredictable year in our game’s history, we’ve faced unprecedented challenges and I feel like the best football is yet to come.”

Last month, the AFL announced it would move its grand final to Queensland to play in front of a crowd of about 30,000 fans. The AFL grand final has never been played outside of Victoria.

Turkish GP

Formula One’s Turkish Grand Prix has been forced to abandon plans to allow spectators to next month’s event, despite expressing lofty plans to welcome more than 100,000.

The news comes amid mounting COVID-19 concerns and the Istanbul Governor’s office announced on Monday that the race weekend would be held without fans.

The Turkish GP, which was scheduled to take place between November 13-15, shifted more than 40,000 tickets within six hours of going on sale last month. Istanbul Park’s operators Intercity had sold tickets at record-low prices for the 2020 weekend in a move designed to boost attendances.

Intercity chairman Vural Ak said in a statement on Monday that all tickets would be fully refunded, and added “human health is all of our priority.”

He continued: “I am sure that even if it’s without fans, after the perfect hospitality we will show here, we will bring the races here next year and fill the stands together.”

Turkey’s 220,000-capacity venue was one of the several new or returning tracks to be added to the 2020 schedule due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

F1 has begun to allow spectators into its events, with around 3,000 fans able to attend the Tuscan GP at Mugello. In addition, the recent Russian GP had around 30,000 spectators each day, with the next events at the Nurburgring, Algarve and Imola all being open to fans.

Image: Rob Keating / CC BY 2.0 / Edited for size