Australia stadia to allow 10,000 fans


Australia Bankwest Stadium June 2020 Image: Bankwest Stadium

Up to 10,000 people will be allowed in stadiums in Australia from July. The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has given the go-ahead for the same recently. He said the changes could also apply for concerts and festivals.

Morrison gave the green light in the second week of June when he announced a calibration of his Cabinet’s third stage of easing rules which was put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rules will be eased nationwide in July. The 100-person cap on indoor venues which is in place will be scrapped, paving the way for more people to attend sporting events and gatherings.

Morrison said the above rule will apply to stadia boasting capacity or 40,000 or below, ruling out the likes of the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Adelaide Oval until further notice. All fans will have to carry tickets and follow strict social distancing rules in the seating section, and attendance will be limited to 25 per cent of the venue’s capacity.

Media reports quoted Morrison as saying, “It would have to be a large, open area. There would need to be seats at the appropriate distance. It would need to be ticketed, so people would be able to understand who was in attendance at that event.”

“We will be moving, as part of Step 3, for events in stadia or other venues of that nature with a capacity of 40,000 or less to enable attendance at those events,” he added.

Morrison informed that all States and territories in Australia are prepared to follow the new rules by July.

Australia’s two biggest professional winter sports – National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Football League (AFL) – have already resumed their seasons with closed door matches. However, small groups of fans have been allowed in stadium corporate facilities.

Simon Gorr, Head of Infrastructure, AFL, Australia, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

The NRL is allowing fans at corporate boxes on game-day, while South Australia State authorities approved a crowd of 2,000 in the terraces for the AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and Port Power at Adelaide Oval held recently.

Morrison further added, “This is not something that’s happening straight away. This is something that would be happening as part of Step 3, where States and territories choose to move to that, and it will require a bit more work.”

For now, bigger grounds will not be allowed to bring in fans taking into consideration the difficulties around social distancing in larger crowds, particularly on public transport getting to and from venues.

But, it opens the door for fans to cheer on their teams at mid-tier arenas, which could include Canberra Stadium and AAMI Park in Melbourne, which are both due to host Super Rugby games from July 3.

Since mid-March, spectators have not been allowed to attend Australian sporting events and competitions came to a grinding halt as COVID-19 wreaked havoc worldwide.

As Down Under has been able to rein in coronavirus to a great extent, rugby league and Australian rules is back in action, with cardboard cut-outs taking the place of fans in seats to make the grounds appear less empty and broadcasters piping in canned crowd noises.

Australian rules football is a contact sport played between two teams of 18 players on an oval field, often a modified cricket ground.

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