Crowds set to return to sport as AFL resumes
Crowds will return to Australian sports events sooner than expected, albeit in a limited capacity, as the AFL season gets back underway this weekend.
Meanwhile, over the ditch in New Zealand, they are pushing for sold-out crowds over the weekend after the country was declared coronavirus-free.
On Friday, PM Scott Morrison announced plans to get crowds of up to 10,000 in stadiums next month. Under the plan, venues with a capacity of up to 40,000 may have an attendance of up to 25 per cent of their capacity, while larger venues such as the MCG would be given their own limits.
The NRL enters its third week of action this weekend since its resumption, while the AFL makes its return for the first time since Covid-19 temporarily suspended its season.
The NSW Government is allowing for one person per four square metres in corporate boxes (up to a maximum of 50 people per box) from this weekend. Venues such as Bankwest Stadium which boasts 54 corporate suites and additional corporate facilities will benefit most from this.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys has begun discussions to start allowing fans into the grandstands from July 1, if not earlier.
All eight NRL games this round are in NSW, across three venues: Central Coast Stadium, Bankwest Stadium and Campbelltown Stadium. There are also two AFL games in Sydney on Sunday – GWS Giants v North Melbourne at the Showgrounds and Sydney Swans v Essendon at the SCG.
The Showdown in Adelaide between the Crows and Power will welcome over 2,000 fans to Adelaide Oval on Saturday night. Port Adelaide has been allocated about 75% of tickets due to it being their home game.
2,000 fans will be seated in the general admission area, while a further 240 will be allowed in the stadium’s private boxes. The Crows have been allocated 475 tickets and Port Adelaide 1475 tickets - due to it being a Power home game.
The remaining tickets will be allocated to Adelaide Oval members. Clubs are using a ballot system to allocate tickets to its members.
The Brisbane Lions were hopeful of having 1,000 fans in the stands at the Gabba for their match against Fremantle on Saturday, but Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has since ruled that out. Limited crowds may be allowed into Queensland venues from next weekend.
Victoria is expected to be the last state to allow fans back to stadiums for sports events, with the 10,000-strong Black Lives Matter protest the primary cause according to Premier Daniel Andrews. June 22 is a potential date to see fans back in the stands in Melbourne.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan hasn't giving up hope on the prospect of holding this year’s AFL Grand Final in front of 100,000 fans at the MCG. The game is expected to be played on October 24, almost a month later than originally scheduled.
Meanwhile, New Zealand will become the first country to fully open its stadiums for sports events after its PM declared the nation coronavirus-free.
Similar to New Zealand, Australia is running its own domestic competition to replace Super Rugby which was cancelled following round 7. The 22-game Super Rugby AU competition will also feature the Western Force and commence on July 3 – view the fixture.
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