Rugby News

Rugby League-Australia's NRL decider to welcome 40,000 spectators

MELBOURNE, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Australia’s National Rugby League Grand Final has been moved to the Olympic stadium in Sydney to allow 40,000 spectators to attend the championship decider in COVID-safe conditions, the league said on Wednesday.

The Grand Final was to be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground but would have been limited to a half-capacity crowd of about 25,000 fans. The Olympic stadium has a capacity of about 82,000.

“This year will be a historic Grand Final day ... We can’t wait to see 40,000 fans at the venue,” NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement.

“Our fans have been so patient and loyal throughout the season and having crowd caps increase for the finals series is the perfect way to acknowledge that loyalty.”

The NRL season was suspended after two rounds in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic but resumed late-May at closed stadiums.

With new COVID-19 infections slowing to a trickle by mid-year in most Australian states, authorities began allowing limited crowds to attend NRL and other professional sports competitions.

Britain last week postponed plans to allow limited crowds back into stadiums from October as part of measures to tackle a second wave of COVID-19.

The NRL playoffs start Friday with the pace-setting Penrith Panthers hosting the defending champion Sydney Roosters. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Michael Perry)