Coronavirus: Australia's sport crowds set to return and take place of cardboard fans

By Sports Desk June 12, 2020

Australia is ready to ditch the cardboard cutouts and welcome back thousands of spectators to its major sporting events, prime minister Scott Morrison has declared.

From July, venues with up to 40,000 seats will be allowed to operate at a limit of 25 per cent capacity, providing events are ticketed and seated.

Morrison confirmed the same guidelines could also apply to larger venues but said local health authorities would need to assess coronavirus risk on a case-by-case basis.

The news could mean events such as the NRL and AFL welcome back supporters next month, and it boosts the prospect of cricket's ICC Twenty20 World Cup taking place with fans in October and November.

Announcing the reopening of stadiums to fans, albeit with social distancing measures in place, Morrison said he was "sure that will be very welcome".

Australia's biggest venues, such as the MCG, Docklands Stadium and Stadium Australia, may also soon be back open for business.

"For the larger ones I would venture that it would be the subject of a discrete approval for each venue, that would be worked up with the chief health officer in each state or territory," Morrison said.

"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 to just carry over to those above 40,000, but that is not a decision that has been taken yet.

"These will be practical, common-sense issues, they'll be worked through by the medical expert panel over the next few weeks and I think that will give it greater instruction.

"The purpose of me flagging this today is so sporting codes, venues, state and territory governments, can engage in that appropriate discussion, know broadly what the parameters are which the national cabinet has set, so it means that people will be able to watch the games, not as cardboard cutouts, but in person, should they be fortunate enough to get one of those seats."

Australia has had over 7,200 cases of COVID-19, with 102 deaths, and there are fewer than 500 current cases in the country, the government said.

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    Former France internationals Serge Betsen, Vincent Clerc and Dimitri Yachvili have paid tribute to Christophe Dominici following the death of their old team-mate.

    Dominici passed away at the age of 48 on Tuesday, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) and the player's former club Stade Francais confirmed, with the cause of his death not yet revealed.

    Toulon-born Dominici, who played at full-back and on the wing, won 67 caps for his country and scored 25 tries.

    Only Clerc (11) has scored more tries for France at a Rugby World Cup than the eight managed by Dominici, who made his debut for Les Bleus against England in 1998.

    Clerc, who played 67 times for France, posted on Twitter: "Thank you Domi for everything you brought to French rugby and all these good times spent with you."

    Betsen earned many of his 63 caps alongside Dominici, and also tweeted: "Very very touched by this terrible and sad news of my playing brother Christophe Dominici. The inspiration and soul of a warrior. I am very sad."

    Dominici won the French title five times during a long, successful club career with capital club Stade, where he was employed as a coach after retiring.

    Former France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili wrote: "I'm sad. My heart bleeds. You will forever remain an artist, an endearing and elusive man, a legend of our sport. A thought for your family and loved ones. Rest in peace Domi."

    Ex-England star Jonny Wilkinson also offered his condolences.

    "The death of Christophe Dominici is terribly sad. We think of all his relatives. The world of sport has lost a true legend," the World Cup winner posted on Twitter.

    Wilkinson's former England team-mate Jason Robinson added: "Had the privilege of playing against the France rugby legend Christophe Dominici on many occasions. Such sad news to hear of his passing. Thoughts and prayers with his family and friends. RIP."

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    England defence coach John Mitchell said: "Ollie has a little niggle around his abductor and hip area, nothing major but it is a niggle that is concerning him.

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    Former France international Christophe Dominici has died at the age of 48.

    The French Rugby Federation (FFR) and Dominici's former club Stade Francais confirmed the Bleus great had passed away on Tuesday, with no cause of death revealed.

    Versatile back Dominici, who operated on the wing or at full-back, won 67 caps for his country and scored 25 tries.

    The Toulon-born Dominici is France's second-highest Rugby World Cup try-scorer with eight, a tally only Vincent Clerc has bettered.

    The FFR tweeted: "The great French rugby family is in mourning after the tragic death of our winger Christophe Dominici, we are thinking especially of his family and loved ones."

    Dominici won the French title five times during a long, successful club career with capital club Stade, where he employed as a coach after retiring.

    The Top 14 club posted on Twitter: "It is with immense sadness and heartbreak that Stade Français Paris learned of the death of Christophe Dominici.

    "Rugby genius and peerless companion, he leaves a great void in our big family. Our thoughts are with his partner and his daughters."

    Governing body World Rugby also paid tribute to Dominici.

    "A legend of @FranceRugby and an all-time great of the game. Rest In Peace, Christophe Dominici," the organisation posted on social media.

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