Record crowd of 78,000 attends Australian Rules football match – in pictures

Match between Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers in Melbourne sees biggest crowd since pandemic began

A record crowd of 78,000 packed the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday for an Australian Rules football match, in what is believed to be the biggest crowd at a sporting fixture since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

However, the crowd size at the MCG fell short of expectations that 85,000 could attend the traditional Anzac Day match between the Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers.

The MCG can seat 100,000 people and the Australian Football League (AFL) had hoped health authorities would allow the match to be played in front of a capacity stadium.

However, officials ordered ticket sales to be capped at 85 per cent of capacity, up from a previous limit of 75 per cent.

A spokeswoman for the MCG said 78,311 people attended on Sunday. One commentator for Channel 7, which broadcast the match, said "we think that's a world record crowd for any sporting event since the pandemic hit".

In March, the second Twenty20 between India and England in Ahmedabad was attended by 65,000 fans but the matches were quickly pushed back behind closed doors after crowds failed to adhere to health protocols.

Australia and neighbouring New Zealand have been home to some of the largest sporting crowds since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to the nations largely containing the spread of Covid-19.

Last November, the State of Origin rugby league finale between Queensland and New South Wales took place in front of 49,000 fans in Brisbane.

A month earlier 46,000 people saw hosts New Zealand beat Australia at rugby union in Dunedin.

AFL matches during the first five rounds of this year's season have averaged 28,233 attendees, including almost 55,000 last weekend who watched the West Coast Eagles triumph over Collingwood.

The Magpies were again defeated on Sunday, losing to the Bombers by 24 points.

Published: April 25, 2021 02:49 PM

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