Melbourne, Australia, Feb 12 (efe-epa).- The Australian Open will not allow spectators from Saturday after the premier of Victoria state declared new restrictions following the detection of a new outbreak of the highly contagious UK coronavirus strain in a quarantine hotel in the state’s capital, Melbourne.
The tournament will continue as scheduled as the new restrictions will only apply to spectators.
“The AO broadcast-only contingency plan will commence from Saturday, Feb. 13 until restrictions are lifted. Play will continue uninterrupted on the broadcast, albeit without spectators onsite,” Tennis Australia, the governing body for the sport in the country, said in a Friday statement.
The tennis body also said that full refunds will be provided to anyone with tickets for the affected sessions.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the lockdown, which will go into effect at midnight on Friday, in a statement earlier in the day.
“Any number of other large and small professional sport events, they will function essentially as a workplace. But they will not function as an entertainment event, because there will be no crowds,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
“And the workforce will be the minimum that is needed in order for that to be COVID-safe and safe in lots of other contexts,” he added.
The government made the decision to ban spectators at the event after detecting 13 cases linked to the latest outbreak.
Saturday is traditionally one of the most popular days of the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events held each year.
For the first time, the games scheduled on this day, including clashes between top seeded players, will be played behind closed doors.
Australia has recorded a total of 28,879 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, including 907 deaths.
Out of this, 20,460 cases and 829 deaths were registered in Victoria state, whose capital Melbourne was the epicenter of the second wave of the virus in the country between June and September, which led to a second lockdown of its 5 million inhabitants. EFE-EPA