Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday hinted at the return of up to 10,000 spectators at sporting venues from July as the country races against time to be ready for the T20 World Cup in October-November and eagerly awaits a Test series against India after that.
The International Cricket Council is likely to decide the fate of the World Cup next month. The 16-team tournament is in serious doubt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Test series against India is scheduled in December.
Morrison said, initially, stadiums with a capacity below 40,000 will be allowed to house up to 10,000 fans, leaving out iconic cricket grounds like MCG, SCG and Adelaide Oval.
"This is going to be looked at over the next few weeks. For the larger ones (venues) I would venture that it would be the subject of a discrete approval for each venue that would be worked out with the Chief Health Officer in each state or territory," Morrison was quoted as saying by 'ESPNCricinfo'.
"So by the time you get into July there may be that type of opportunity for the rules that apply to those under 40,000 carry over to those above 40,000. These will be practical, commonsense issues, work through by the medical expert panel over the next few weeks and I think they will give a great instruction."
While New Zealand has declared that it has no active COVID-19 cases, Australia too is among the least affected countries by the pandemic with little over 7000 infections being reported till date.
Morrison said allowing spectators in stadiums with more than 40,000 capacity will take some more time.
"When you're up above 40,000, you've got more than 10,000 people going to a gathering, that has implications for the egress and access of and to those premises, public transport crushes, all those sorts of things," he explained.
"That will require much more significant work," Morrison added.