With American sports venues shuttered, Australians will fill stands for first Grand Slam of 2021

Australia Tennis Exhibition
Posted at 9:49 PM, Jan 29, 2021

Early next month, the first Grand Slam of the 2021 tennis season will be held Down Under, but with coronavirus concerns, there were questions on whether the event would even be held.

With Australia among the few nations in the world having largely defeated the virus, the tournament is not only set to get underway, but the stands will be relatively full.

According to ABC News (Australia), 25,000 to 30,000 fans will be permitted daily on the grounds of the Australian Open. While this will be somewhat fewer than previous years, the expectation is the atmosphere will be roughly the same.

"That means on Rod Laver Arena, as we get to the end of the tournament, we'll have an incredible atmosphere, not that different to the atmosphere we've seen in all the opens in years past," Victoria minister for sport Martin Pakula told ABC.

"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," he added.

In order to get to this point, players were forced to quarantine in hotel rooms, which caused disruptions to training schedules. As those quarantines are starting to be lifted, some players participated in exhibition matches on Friday in Adelaide, Australia.

The stands for the exhibition matches were largely full of maskless fans. The reason why is that Australia has gone more than two weeks without a local case of the coronavirus. Australia has had 909 coronavirus-related deaths. Adjusted for population, the US has had more than 35 times the number of deaths

Meanwhile, most NHL and NBA teams in the US and Canada have not hosted fans this season. The ones that have only have allowed a fraction of their normal attendance.

Before being able to nearly relax all of its coronavirus protocols, Australia had some of the strictest mitigation efforts in the world. That was illustrated during July when a party prompted a police response, and $18,000 in fines.