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Ticket sales for next week’s Australian Open will be restricted after the Victorian government moved to limit the possible spread of COVID-19 at the tennis grand slam.
All tickets already purchased will be honoured, but the government said a 50 per cent cap would be imposed on all sessions yet to sell to that level.
No more than half the seats will be filled at this year’s Australian Open tennis grand slam.Credit:Eddie Jim
There will be no changes to ground access passes.
The government announced the crowd cap on Thursday afternoon ahead of the announcement of the draws for the grand slam tournament and the anticipated decision from the federal government on the visa status of world tennis men’s No.1 player Novak Djokovic. First round matches at the tournament will kick off on Monday.
“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,” Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Jaala Pulford said.
“Melbourne Park is the best place on the planet to watch the tennis and thousands of spectators will be able to experience the … Open from Monday.”
The crowd cap was confirmed on one of the deadliest days of the pandemic in Australia, with more than 50 deaths recorded nationwide, 25 of them in Victoria.
With the Omricon variant of the virus spreading rapidly, the state recorded 37,169 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. But it’s commonly accepted that the official figures underestimate the true tally of cases in the community, which would be much higher if rapid antigen tests were more accessible and the PCR testing system was more efficient at delivering results.
Face masks will be mandatory for all patrons attending the tournament, except when eating or drinking. Density limits – now at one person per two square metres – will also apply to indoor hospitality venues at Melbourne Park, consistent with the limits applied elsewhere in the state.
The government said HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) air filters had been installed in parts of the Melbourne Park precinct to improve ventilation.
The tournament attracted 812,714 spectators in 2020, and the government’s estimates suggest it injected almost $390 million into the Victorian economy.
It returns to its traditional mid-January time slot this year after being delayed by three weeks last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crowd restrictions were in place during last year’s tournament and a snap, five-day lockdown meant a large chunk of the tournament was played without any fans in attendance. The cap introduced for this year’s event is similar to the restrictions that existed when crowds returned for the closing days after that lockout.
As one of Victoria’s major events, the championship is subject to anti-scalping laws that prevent anyone selling or advertising the sale of tickets for any more than 10 per cent higher than their face value.
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