Rapid rise of women’s sport at risk of being halted by Covid-19 outbreak
It will be an eerie sight this week when grounds around Australia host the opening round of the men’s AFL competition with empty stands. In the space of two weeks, the Melbourne Cricket Ground will have gone from a jubilant crowd of green, gold and blue to a silent concrete colosseum, save for the familiar sounds of umpires’ whistles, the thud of boot meeting ball, colliding bodies and calls to “play on”.
What we would give to instead see 86,174 fans adding their chorus to the mix, not least for what it would signal about life in Australia returning to normal. Only, that particular crowd count was anything but normal: it was nearly the largest crowd ever seen for a standalone women’s sporting event, beaten only by the 1999 Fifa Women’s World Cup at the California Rose Bowl.