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COVID-19 hotspot Victoria on track to host Australian Open: Premier - Metro US

COVID-19 hotspot Victoria on track to host Australian Open: Premier

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Fourth Round

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Victoria state is on track to host the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam and the traditional Boxing Day cricket test during the home summer as COVID-19 infection rates fall, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday.

A second wave of infections had raised doubts about whether the Jan. 18-31 Australian Open and the cricket match could go ahead in Melbourne, Victoria’s state capital, which has been under strict lockdown for several weeks.

However, Victoria on Monday recorded 35 new COVID-19 cases, its lowest single-day rise in new infections in nearly three months.

Asked at a media conference whether the state was on the “right trajectory” to host the two major sports events, Andrews said: “I think we are.

“But I don’t think it’s going to be the Boxing Day test like it normally is, nor do I think the Australian Open will be exactly the same as it is (usually).

“For instance, teams coming from overseas, players coming from overseas … they’re all going to have to quarantine. It’s not going to be an ordinary summer from that point of view.

“But we’ll get as many people as we can there provided it’s safe.”

The Australian Open, held at Melbourne Park, is tennis’s first Grand Slam of the year.

Organisers hope 400,000 people will attend the two-week event, about half normal capacity, and have ruled out holding the tournament outside Melbourne.

Australia are scheduled to play India in the Dec. 26-30 Boxing Day test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, one of cricket’s most iconic fixtures.

Last year’s test between Australia and New Zealand drew over 80,000 people on day one and over 200,000 across the match’s four days.

Andrews said the government was talking with organisers about having crowds at the events.

“We just have to work out what a safe crowd would be. It is too hard to say now what that number is,” he said.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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