Australia's National Rugby League (NRL) final between Penrith Panthers and South Sydney Rabbitohs on Sunday will be played in front of a reduced crowd of 39,000 in Brisbane because of new COVID-19 restrictions, the league said on Thursday.
The move follows Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's announcement of stage-two coronavirus restrictions across areas of Queensland on Thursday, including Brisbane and Gold Coast as well as Townsville.
Around 13,000 supporters who purchased tickets for the sold-out encounter will now receive automatic refunds, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said in a statement https://www.nrl.com/news/2021/09/30/tickets-to-be-refunded-after-government-caps-grand-final-crowd-at-75.
"I want to acknowledge fans who will miss out on attending the grand final," Abdo said.
"I know you had been counting down the days to a once-in-a-lifetime experience and this will be difficult news to take, but this decision is out of our hands."
The NRL had said earlier this month that the final would be played outside Sydney for the first time, with Brisbane's Lang Park confirmed as the venue.
The league had relocated to the state of Queensland three months ago when a third wave of COVID-19 infections sent New South Wales and Victoria into lockdowns.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast)