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Australia Planning Big Crowds For Ashes Despite Covid-19 Concerns

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Cricket Australia is planning on big crowds for the Ashes series against England later this year, with venues being sold to full capacity despite ongoing concerns about Covid-19.

Chief executive Nick Hockley said tickets would go on sale Monday with all stadiums sold to their limit except the 100,000-seat Melbourne Cricket Ground which will have an initial capacity of 85 percent.

“The Ashes rivalry is one of the biggest in world sport, and we hope that conditions will allow as many fans as possible to attend,” Hockley said in a statement late Wednesday.

“In the event that capacities are reduced due to government restrictions associated with the pandemic, we of course guarantee fans full refunds.”

The five-Test series is due to start in Brisbane on December 8 before a day/night match in Adelaide, followed by the traditional Boxing Day Test in Melbourne then Sydney and Perth.

Hockley’s optimism comes despite Sydney, Brisbane and Perth currently in lockdown after a flare-up of the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 which has seen sports events scamble to shift their games out of those cities.

With barely five months until the Ashes starts, it remains highly unlikely that the usual hordes of Barmy Army supporters will be able to travel to Australia, given current bans on international arrivals.

“Hopefully people will be able to make the trip but if they can’t, then I know they’ll be following very closely from England and from around the cricket world,” Hockley said.

Australia are due to host Afghanistan in a one-off Test in Hobart ahead of the Ashes and will play New Zealand and Sri Lanka in limited overs games following their showdown with England.

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