'Crucial' SCG call made ahead of New Year's Test

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Crowd numbers will be reduced to 20% of the MCG's capacity for the New Year's Test at the SCG, which begins on January 7. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Crowd numbers will be reduced to 20% of the MCG's capacity for the New Year's Test at the SCG, which begins on January 7. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The SCG will be reduced to 25 per cent crowd capacity for this week's cricket Test as acting NSW Premier John Barilaro urges regional NSW residents to reconsider attending the match.

Cricket Australia (CA) and the SCG Trust have announced the change amid growing unease about Sydney's COVID-19 outbreak.

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The new settings for the third Test against India are expected to allow for about 10,000 fans each day, down from the previous figure of about 20,000.

The Australian Medical Association has led calls for the SCG Test to be played in front of empty stands because of the risk it could be a virus super-spreading event.

Refunds will be processed from Monday as CA hastily reconfigures the iconic venue's seating ahead of the opening day on Thursday.

"We are working closely with Venues NSW and NSW Health to put appropriate biosecurity measures in place for our staff, players, match officials, broadcasters and fans to ensure we play the third Test at the SCG safely," CA's chief executive Nick Hockley said.

"Reducing the capacity of the venue is crucial in achieving social distancing requirements."

The NSW government reported zero new cases of COVID-19 community transmission on Monday.

However, Barilaro cautioned that two new cases will be part of Tuesday's numbers and that testing numbers are "far too low".

The NSW Nationals Leader also argued that NSW residents from regional areas should "reconsider their visit" to the SCG Test.

"Maybe this year isn't the year to come to Sydney to watch the Test," Barilaro said.

"I know regional people use common sense.

"The risk would be ... they could take it (coronavirus) back to a regional area."

Reduced capacity comes amid calls for Test rethink

Medical experts have called for tougher decisions to be made by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the state Government with plans to allow thousands of fans into the SCG for the third Test against India on Thursday.

Last week, Berejiklian and the NSW Government came under heavy scrutiny after doubling down on their decision to allow the Sydney Test to go ahead despite a dramatic rise in the state’s Covid-19 numbers.

But on Saturday, the premier announced further restrictions in NSW with mask-wearing set to become mandatory for a host of venues and activities in Greater Sydney from this weekend.

Speaking to reporters, Premier Berejiklian again reassured residents the cricket would be a ‘controlled and ticketed event’, despite restrictions tightening for most other industries.

But on Monday morning, Australian Medical Association President Dr Omah Khorshid said it was time to make the important decisions for the health of NSW residents.

“It's time to make decisions on the basis of health, rather than economy and sport, and it's just the wrong decision and we're certainly calling on the New South Wales Government to relook at this question,” he told the ABC.

He also said playing the game with no crowd is the ideal solution, but mandatory masks at the SCG would also be an improvement from the current safety measures.

“Masks would be more safe than what we heard is currently being proposed,” he added.

With Yahoo Sport Australia/Riley Morgan

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