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Australian Open to allow up to 30,000 spectators per day
30 January 2021, 09:12 | Updated: 31 January 2021, 17:04
Crowds of up to 30,000 will be allowed to watch next month's Australian Open in Melbourne, Victoria's sports minister has confirmed.
Martin Pakula has announced that the tournament's Covid-safe plan will accommodate 30,000 spectators daily during the first eight days of play, which gets under way on February 8, and 25,000 from the quarter-finals on, representing around half the usual capacity.
Pakula said in a tweet: "Today @TennisAustralia CEO @CraigTiley & I inspected work on the new 5000 seat Showcourt Arena that will be ready in time for the 2022 @AustralianOpen. It was also a fitting day to note the renaming of @JohnCainArena & to confirm crowds of up to 30,000 per day for this year's AO."
Speaking at a press conference at Melbourne Park earlier in the day, Pakula told reporters: "It will not be the same as the last few years, but it will be the most significant international event with crowds that the world has seen for many, many months."
Australia has not had a new case of Covid-19 in the community for almost two weeks.
Today @TennisAustralia CEO @CraigTiley & I inspected work on the new 5000 seat Showcourt Arena that will be ready in time for the 2022 @AustralianOpen. It was also a fitting day to note the renaming of @JohnCainArena & to confirm crowds of up to 30,000 per day for this year’s AO. pic.twitter.com/wJjKM2Me2C— Martin Pakula (@MartinPakulaMP) January 30, 2021
Overseas players arrived in Australia earlier this month to complete two weeks in quarantine ahead of the year's first grand slam.
Seventy-two players, including Britain's Heather Watson, had to spend that time in "hard lockdown", having been confined to their hotel rooms as a result of positive Covid-19 tests for fellow passengers on their charter flights.
Watson's quarantine ended on Friday, with the last of the player lockdown periods due to finish on Saturday.
Murray was later forced to pull out of the first major of 2021 in Melbourne after he was unable to find what he called a "workable quarantine" following a positive COVID-19 test on January 14.
Instead, he will compete in a challenger tournament in Biella next month following his withdrawal.
Competitors in the Australian Ipen had to complete a two-week period of quarantine during which they were allowed out of their rooms to practise for five hours a day.
They were told that a positive test prior to flying would mean they were not allowed to travel to Australia.