Boxing Day Ashes Test and Australian Open in Melbourne to have full crowds

Full crowds will be present at both the Australian Open and Boxing Day Ashes Test in Melbourne as Covid restrictions are set to ease in the state of Victoria.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced that there will be no more caps on gatherings in the state from 11:59pm (12:59am GMT) on Thursday.

The eased restrictions will be undoubtedly come as a huge welcome to Australia's major sports – including tennis – which have taken significant hits to revenue due to crowd restrictions throughout the pandemic in Melbourne, the country's second-largest city.

Speaking at a media briefing, Andrews said: "Whether it's 100,000 people at the MCG on Boxing Day or a smaller group of people standing up at the… local pub, this is the COVID-normal that every Victorian has built."

Victoria have progressively eased restrictions as Covid vaccination rates have increased recently, and 90 per cent of people within the state over the age of 12 will have been fully vaccinated by the end of this week.

Entry into Australia is currently restricted to Australian citizens, permanent residents of the country and immediate family of Australian citizens or permanent residents with proof of a negative PCR test. Parents of adult Australian citizens and permanent residents were eligible as immediate family from November 1.

The last Australian Open in February was limited to 30,000 people per day but then all spectators were banned for five days due to a snap lockdown.

The 2020 Boxing Day Test between Australia and India had crowds capped at 30,000 per day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which can seat a mammoth 100,000. The last Ashes Test between the old foes back in 2017 saw over 88,000 in attendance on Boxing Day alone.

But England will face a daunting task against Australia with a huge home presence at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australia will face England at the MCG from December 26 as part of the five-Test Ashes series.

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