Capacity Up and Down in Down Under


Capacity Up and Down in Down Under Image: Optus Stadium

Australia – which till not very long back was lauded for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic – is today in the throes of the virulent virus COVID-19’s Delta variant – and All of Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong are now in a full lockdown in a bid to arrest the escalating coronavirus outbreak. In fact, the Delta variant is fueling the rise of new COVID-19 cases across the globe.

‘9 News’ stated that the two-week lockdown with stay-at-home orders will last until the midnight of July 9th, 2021. The center of Australia’s outbreak is the Sydney suburb of Bondi, which has been linked to more than 120 cases, including some detected as far away as Perth, almost 2,000 miles away.

As far as the sports scenario is concerned, in the Greater Sydney area sports events will be played in empty stadiums at least till July 9th.

‘9 News’ further stated that COVID-19 restrictions have been imposed on residents of every State and territory in the country – except the island State of Tasmania – and these range from full-blown lockdowns in Sydney, Darwin and Perth, to mask mandates in some indoor settings in Adelaide and Canberra.

The ‘Australasian Leisure Management’ stated that Victoria so far has no new COVID-19 cases but border patrols have increased to stop people entering without permission.

The Victorian Government has allowed spectators to return to Melbourne’s major sporting events as its eases COVID restrictions and though a few days back the Western Australian Government had removed crowd restrictions and size limits for major events and venues, but Western Australia announced the latest lockdown on Monday night for at least four days for Perth and Peel after a third case was diagnosed.

The ‘Australasian Leisure Management’ further stated that the Victorian Government confirmed crowds of up to 50 percent capacity, or a maximum of 25,000 people, will be allowed to attend games at Melbourne venues.

The A-League (top level of Australian football) grand final between the professional soccer clubs Melbourne City FC and Sydney FC was held on June 27th in front of a sellout crowd at the 30,050-capacity AAMI Park, which was at 50 percent capacity and Melbourne City gave a sound drubbing to Sydney FC 3-1.

The Australian Football League (AFL) games during last weekend started with the St Kilda Football Club stunning its peer team Richmond Football Club in a 40-point win at the 1,00,024-capacity MCG on the night of June 25th in front of 14,787 spectators.

The AFL had lobbied the Victorian Government for a 50 percent capacity at the MCG and the 53,359-capacity Marvel Stadium.

Australia has recorded just 910 deaths in its population of 25 million, one of the lowest per capita death tolls in the developed world, and cases have remained low as well. But, since the country became too complacent with its handling of the deadly virus, it has vaccinated just over 4 percent of its population and people are now blaming Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his slow vaccine rollout for the ongoing lockdowns.

Optus Stadium

Greg Sleigh, 1st General Manager Commercial, Optus Stadium, wrote a post on the professional platform LinkedIn wherein he expressed his disappointment that the game at Optus Stadium between West Coast and Bulldogs on June 27th will be played without crowd as lockdown has been declared in Perth due to rising cases of the Delta variant of coronavirus in several parts of Australia.

Wrote Sleigh on LinkedIn, “We woke up this morning with the thought that Optus Stadium will be full house. But alas, not to be with COVID concerns rendering the match played behind closed doors this afternoon. No doubt disappointing for the players, the club and the staff who were ready to go today but over and above that disappointment, the biggest eye opener for me was the anger at a social post confirming the decision.”

Sleigh further wrote, “I get the disappointment. I understand that patrons and staff would have left home and en route when the announcement occurred but when did we fall so far in our standards that it’s ok to shoot the messenger, whether it be our social team in this instance or the shop assistant asking you to put the mask on or the bus driver asking you to respect social distancing. We’re all frustrated that we’re here. Wouldn’t it be just that little easier as we embark upon another 6-12 months of the journey that we all showed a modicum more patience and kindness?”

The 60,156-capacity Perth Stadium, also known by naming rights sponsorship as Optus Stadium, is a multipurpose stadium in Perth, Western Australia, located in the suburb of Burswood. It was completed in late 2017 and officially opened on January 21st, 2018.

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