Crowds set to return in Melbourne & Sydney
Flemington Racecourse will welcome a limited crowd for the Melbourne Cup on November 2, while Sydney gets their chance this weekend ahead of two women’s international football matches at CommBank Stadium a week later, which has received a huge boost.
The VRC has been granted approval to welcome 10,000 fully vaccinated punters for the major international event, in a move designed to show the world Victoria is open for business. It comes after Melbourne recently became the world’s most locked down city throughout the pandemic.
If Victoria can hit 80% vaccination rate by November 4, restricted crowds will also be permitted to attend the remaining two days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival – Oaks Day and Stakes Day. However, the famous course will remain empty for Derby Day on October 30 - but there is a late push to allow a crowd in with Victoria to hit the target earlier than expected.
Attendance will be restricted to those who live within 25 kilometres of Flemington Racecourse, while members of the Victorian Racing Club (VRC) will be given priority access to access tickets, with a very limited allotment of just 500 tickets to be made available to the general public.
It’ll be the first sports event in Melbourne played in front of a crowd in 113 days, with the Wallabies v France rugby test match on July 13 the last event with spectators in the stands, when 20,114 were in attendance at AAMI Park.
Looking further ahead, the next (non-racing) sports event in Melbourne is the A-League season-opener between Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar on November 19 at AAMI Park, with limited crowds expected to be permitted to attend.
Sydney emerged from 106 days of lockdown with ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday and horse racing fans will get their opportunity to take in the action at Royal Randwick on Saturday for The Everest, with a limited crowd of 10,000 able to attend the big race day after an initial crowd limit of 5000 was doubled.
The following weekend, the Matildas will play the first of two international friendly matches against Brazil at the newly-named CommBank Stadium in Parramatta. Crowds were also initially restricted to 5000 for both matches, but the NSW Government announced on Thursday this will be boosted to 22,500 - an increase from 17% to 75% of the stadium's capacity.
Other upcoming sports events in Sydney include the Golden Eagle raceday, four Supercars races back-to-back at Sydney Motorsport Park and the A-League season from November 20.
It’ll be a welcome return for sport in the city, after much of the NRL season including the Grand Final was relocated to Queensland. Matches for the recent Australian women’s cricket series were also moved elsewhere, as have scheduled WBBL matches. With the A-League set for a late November start, the NBL will get underway on the first weekend of December, with the Sydney Kings in action on December 5 at Qudos Bank Arena.