MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A crowd of 78,113 gathered at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for an Australian Rules match between Collingwood and Essendon on Sunday April 25, the highest attendance at a sports stadium in the world since the start of the covid19 pandemic.
The authorities of the state of Victoria, in southern Australia, of which Melbourne is the capital, on Friday raised the attendance limit for the arena from 100,000 seats to 85,000 before the traditional blockbuster Anzac Day.
Sunday attendance exceeded the 67,200 and 66,352 spectators drawn to the first two Twenty20 cricket matches between India and England at the 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad in March.
Anzac Day, which commemorates a bloody battle fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) during World War I, is an iconic day on the regional calendar with exceptional crowds guaranteed during sporting events.
The Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers, two of the best-supported teams in the Australian Football League (AFL), have met since 1995 on a public holiday when it falls on a weekday.
Last year the match was played out in an empty MCG, but fans were back in full force at the cavernous stadium on Sunday, emitting a roar as the pre-match memorial preliminaries concluded.
The AFL is one of the best-supported leagues in the world with an average crowd of 35,108 per game in 2019, trailing only the North American National Football League and Germany’s top football leagues. and English.
Four AFL games drew more than 50,000 spectators in the past month, three at the MCG and one at Perth Stadium in Western Australia.
Australia has been relatively successful in containing the new coronavirus, but occasional outbreaks of Covid-19 are still life-threatening.
Parts of Western Australia were blocked for three days Friday at midnight and Sunday’s game at the MCG was only allowed to proceed after the players from Collingwood, who played Perth last week , returned negative Covid-19 tests.
Essendon won the clash 109-85.