The MCG Ashes Test and the Australian Open will be watched by capacity crowds following the easing of coronavirus restrictions in Victoria.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has announced there will no longer be limits on gatherings in the state.

Andrews had revealed last month, when the latest lockdown ended, that he was hopeful at least 80,000 will be able to attend the Boxing Day Test.

Australia and England can now look forward to playing in front of a full house of 100,000 next month.

The first grand slam of the year, starting at Melbourne Park on January 17, is also set to be played without a cap on the number of spectators allowed in.

"Whether it's 100,000 people at the MCG on Boxing Day or a smaller group of people standing up at the … local pub, this is the COVID-normal that every Victorian has built," he said at a press conference.

Crowds for the 2021 Australian Open were limited to 30,000 people per day – around half capacity – prior to a snap lockdown being implemented during the tournament.

No more than 30,000 were permitted in the MCG for Australia's Boxing Day Test against India last year.

Bayern Munich have revealed defender Josip Stanisic has tested positive for coronavirus.

The Bundesliga champions on Thursday confirmed Stanisic, who is fully vaccinated, is isolating at home but feels "fine".

Stanisic came on as a substitute in Croatia's 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Russia on Sunday.

It has been reported that another two Bayern employees have returned positive COVID-19 tests.

Stanisic's team-mate Niklas Sule withdrew from the Germany squad to face Liechtenstein and Armenia after he tested positive for the virus.

Joshua Kimmich, who has publicly confirmed he has not yet received either dose of his vaccine, was forced into isolation along with Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala due to being in close contact with Sule.

The Bavarian giants returned to Bundesliga action with a trip to Augsburg on Friday.

Nick Kyrgios believes the Australian Open should be cancelled as he threw his support behind rival Novak Djokovic, insisting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is "morally wrong".

It remains to be seen whether world number one Djokovic will defend his Australian Open title in Melbourne in January due to vaccination requirements.

The state of Victoria, where the year's opening grand slam takes place at Melbourne Park, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes and across most industries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 Australian Open went ahead, albeit in February instead of January, and without fans for most of the tournament following a snap lockdown of Melbourne due to COVID-19.

Djokovic was among the players critical of the conditions athletes endured prior to this year's Australian Open, with strict quarantine measures introduced.

Kyrgios and Djokovic have clashed in the past, but the former backed the nine-time Australian Open champion as he called for the upcoming grand slam to be scrapped.

"I don't think the Aus Open should go ahead, just for the people in Melbourne – you’ve got to send a message," Australian former world number 13 Kyrgios said on his 'No Boundaries' podcast.

"How long did [Melbourne] do in lockdown? 275 days or something?"

Kyrgios also referenced Brooklyn Nets star and NBA champion Kyrie Irving, who is yet to feature this season due to his refusal to be vaccinated against coronavirus, which is preventing him from practicing or playing – New York has a mandate in place that states players must have had a COVID-19 jab.

Kyrgios – an Australian Open quarter-finalist in 2015 – added: "Kyrie, Novak … These guys have given so much, sacrificed so much. They are global athletes who millions of people look up to.

"I just think it is so morally wrong to force someone to be vaccinated.

"I'm double vaccinated, but I just don't think it's right to force anyone [to be vaccinated] and say 'you can't come and play here because you're not vaccinated'.

"There are other solutions around it, [such as] to get tested every day. In the [United] States I know they've got rapid tests, and it's coming to Australia. It's 85 per cent success rate, you wait 15 minutes and then you're allowed to play."

Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula hit back on Tuesday, telling reporters: "I really like Nick Kyrgios and I cheer for him every time he plays and I certainly don't want to have beef with Nick Kyrgios but I actually couldn't follow the logic of his comments. We've had a long lockdown so the Australian Open shouldn't proceed? I'm not sure I follow that.

"I think the opposite applies. Melburnians, Victorians and, frankly all Australians, are absolutely gagging for major events. Our economy needs it, our state psyche needs it. It's a global grand slam, it's going to go ahead."

The Ottawa Senators' next three NHL games have been postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak.

Ten Senators players and associate coach Jack Capuano are in NHL COVID-19 protocol following positive tests over the past 10 days.

Drake Batherson, Austin Watson, Alex Formenton, Dylan Gambrell and Connor Brown missed the 4-0 defeat to the Calgary Flames on Sunday, with Nick Holden, Victor Mete, Nikita Zaitsev, Josh Brown and Matt Murray also absent.

Ottawa's training facilities have been closed until further notice, and they will not face the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday or the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

Saturday's game against the New York Rangers has also been called off on Monday, with the league citing "evidence of continued spread in recent days."

They are the first games postponed this season due to concerns over the virus, with 55 having been postponed last season.

The NHL stated that rescheduled dates for the three games are to be determined.

Hansi Flick would like all of Germany's players to get vaccinated against coronavirus, but does not judge those who wish not to be.

On Tuesday, Germany confirmed that Bayern Munich defender Niklas Sule – who is fully vaccinated – had tested positive for COVID-19. He was immediately placed into quarantine.

Squads no longer have to do mandatory PCR testing, but Germany elected to do so. With Sule testing positive, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Karim Adeyemi and Joshua Kimmich were classed as close contacts and had to leave the training camp to isolate.

Another four players, who have not been named, were also said to have contact with Sule, but were allowed to remain at the camp. They will train alone and be monitored closely over the coming days.

Apart from Sule, no other positive cases were recorded.

While the vaccination status of Adeyemi, Musiala and Gnabry is not known, Bayern star Kimmich has publicly revealed he wishes to wait for more research to be completed on the vaccines before taking up the offer.

Though he would have preferred to avoid the subject and instead focus on Germany's World Cup qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Armenia, Flick reiterated his opinion that everybody should get vaccinated, but also stressed it must be down to the individual to make such a decision.

"There are enough experts who deal with it," Flick told a news conference on Wednesday.

"They have come to the conclusion that there is no compulsory vaccination. There are people in all areas who do not get vaccinated.

"We are in the public eye. We also have a great responsibility. But I've said everything about how I feel about it.

"I want the players to be vaccinated, but that's up to them. I hope that there will no longer be issues such as the five players we have to send home due to coronavirus, that is what I would like as a coach."

There has been a suggestion that players who are unvaccinated may not be able to compete at the 2022 World Cup.

"Qatar is still a long way off, we will see what comes next," he added.

"Our team doctor said enough yesterday. The fact is that we thought about it beforehand and tested ourselves. We feel it is our responsibility to ensure that we are all healthy.

"That something like this would happen to us was almost foreseeable. But we have no compulsory vaccination. I believe that people should not be judged who do not get vaccinated.

"For me the only way out of the pandemic is to get vaccinated – even in professional football. That is my opinion. But everyone has the right to refuse."

Flick also confirmed that Julian Draxler would miss Thursday's match against Liechtenstein with a muscle injury.

Daniil Medvedev has confirmed he will play at the Australian Open next year, as the debate over vaccine mandates continues.

Medvedev was defeated by Novak Djokovic in the final of this year's tournament, though the Russian has gone on to enjoy a brilliant season.

He has won four titles, including his first grand slam, beating Djokovic at the US Open in September to end the latter's pursuit of a clean sweep of the four majors in 2021.

Djokovic and Medvedev met again on Sunday, with the world number one coming out on top to clinch his sixth Paris Masters title and a record 37th triumph at ATP 1000 events.

Medvedev had appeared non-committal about being vaccinated against COVID-19, which is likely to be a requirement for any player wishing to compete at the Australian Open, but he dispelled doubts around his involvement when he tweeted on Tuesday: "See you in January @AustralianOpen."

While Medvedev will be involved in Melbourne, the participation of Djokovic – who is a nine-time Australian Open champion – is not yet known.

The Serbian has previously appeared hesitant over the coronavirus vaccine mandate, though he has not revealed whether he has been vaccinated or not.

Australia has enforced strict measures throughout the pandemic, with Melbourne having been under lockdown on six occasions since March 2020. Indeed, the city only lifted its most recent restrictions towards the end of October.

Athletes arriving in Australia prior to last year's event had to go through a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.

Despite Australia's vaccination programme gaining momentum, travellers who are not citizens must be able to provide proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test result, while quarantine regulations vary depending on state rules.

Tennis Australia is reportedly still hopeful of securing a deal for unvaccinated players to compete in the tournament, subject to a two-week quarantine, with prime minister Scott Morrison suggesting players could be granted an exemption. 

On Tuesday, though, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews insisted players will have to be vaccinated.

"I'm not going to have people sitting in the grandstands having done the right thing, only to have millionaire players that ought [to] be vaccinated running around the place being essentially at such higher risk of spreading this – getting it and giving it," he said.

Speaking last month, Djokovic said: "I don't know if I'm going to Australia, I don't know what's going on. Currently, the situation is not good at all.

"Of course, I want to go, Australia is my most successful grand slam, I want to participate, I love this sport, I still have motivation."

Germany's national team director Oliver Bierhoff has confirmed Niklas Sule is the player to have tested positive for coronavirus.

It was announced earlier on Tuesday that a member of Germany's squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Armenia had returned a positive PCR test result and had immediately gone into isolation, though the player was not named at the time.

Four other players who were judged to have been close contacts also had to isolate, though no other positive results had been recorded within the camp.

At a subsequent news conference, Bierhoff confirmed Bayern Munich centre-back Sule was the player to have contracted COVID-19. 

Sule is double vaccinated, and the earlier update stated he had not shown any symptoms.

His club-mate Joshua Kimmich, who has publicly confirmed he has not yet received either dose of his vaccine, is one of the other four players to have gone into quarantine.

Kimmich, 26, explained last month that he is not opposed to the prospect of getting vaccinated at some stage, but he wishes to wait for further research to be conducted.

Fellow Bayern players Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala have also been forced into isolation, given they were part of the same travelling party to the training camp, while Karim Adeyemi also has to quarantine.

"The squad is still strong, and we will prepare for the two games in World Cup qualification from noon today and make them successful," said Bierhoff.

"The situation is not easy for the players, but there is no huge concern now."

Asked about Kimmich, Bierhoff said: "It was clear that if someone in his environment tests positive, he would be put in quarantine.

"Of course, that's difficult to accept when you have acted correctly and paid attention to everything."

Bierhoff was joined at the media conference by Germany's team doctor Tim Meyer, who explained the length of the quarantine will depend on the regulations set by the local health authority in Wolfsburg.

Asked if Gnabry, Musiala and Adeyemi were vaccinated, Dr Meyer said: "I won't give you any information about that. The vaccination plays a role in the decision, but also how close the contact was.

"I have already given my personal opinion on vaccination against COVID-19. Joshua Kimmich's opinion is also known. We have to accept that."

Dr Meyer added that four other players have been classed as contacts, though will be allowed to remain at the accommodation and will be tested again in the coming days.

Germany have also lost Florian Wirtz and Nico Schlotterbeck to muscular injuries, with Kevin Volland and Wolfsburg duo Ridle Baku and Maximilian Arnold added to the squad.

England will be without Joe Marler when they face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday after the prop tested positive for coronavirus.

Marler returned a positive lateral flow test on Monday and immediately went into isolation.

The 31-year-old will isolate for 10 days after a PCR test confirmed he has contracted COVID-19.

All of the other England players and staff returned negative lateral flow tests, with additional PCR test results not yet received.

Owen Farrell rejoined the squad on Monday after he missed the 69-3 hammering of Tonga on Saturday, having tested positive for coronavirus last week.

Marler came off the bench in that thrashing at Twickenham, but will play no part against the Wallabies.

He will hope to be available to return when Eddie Jones' side take on world champions South Africa on November 20.

A Germany player has tested positive for coronavirus, with four others also forced into quarantine.

The player in question, who has not been named, is fully vaccinated and currently asymptomatic, according to a DFB statement issued on Tuesday.

All players and staff were PCR tested upon their arrival at Germany's training camp ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Armenia.

Only one player tested positive, but four others have been placed into isolation after being judged to be close contacts.

According to reports, Germany subsequently cancelled their training session on Tuesday, though the DFB statement did not confirm this.

Oliver Bierhoff, director of the national teams and academy, said: "The number of coronavirus cases has risen sharply across the country.

"Therefore, we will continue to implement the hygiene and behavioural measures in place for the final international game of the year, in order for us to handle the current situation as responsibly as possible.

"This news coming so soon before the final two World Cup qualifiers is very tough, both for the coaching staff and the whole team, but health and welfare is our top priority, of course.

"I hope the player who tested positive recovers soon and that he remains asymptomatic."

Germany has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. Indeed, last week, 169,483 cases were recorded (according to World Health Organisation statistics) – the largest spike in the country since December 2020.

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has entered the NBA's health and safety after reportedly testing positive for COVID-19. 

Embiid was expected to sit out Monday's meeting with the New York Knicks as planned rest on the first leg of a back-to-back, but the 76ers subsequently announced he had entered the protocols. 

According to ESPN, the four-time All-Star will now sit out for at least 10 days, ruling him out of Philadelphia's next five games. He could return against the Denver Nuggets next week with the 76ers on a six-game road trip. 

Embiid is averaging 21.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and a career-high 4.0 assists for the 8-2 76ers, who top the Eastern Conference despite having been shorthanded for much of the season.

The 76ers already had Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe in the health and safety protocols. 

They have won all four of their games without Harris, including a 113-103 success over the Portland Trail Blazers that Embiid was rested for. 

Danny Green sustained a hamstring injury in that game and was questionable to make his return against the Knicks. 

Philadelphia also remain without Ben Simmons, who has yet to feature this season as he seeks a trade. 

England captain Owen Farrell has been cleared to return to the squad after his coronavirus test was revealed to be a false positive.

The 30-year-old went into isolation and missed England's 69-3 over Tonga on Saturday after a PCR test taken on Thursday came back positive.

However, England revealed on Sunday that the result has been reviewed and determined as a false positive test.

He tested negative in subsequent PCR tests and has therefore been given the green light to link up with his team-mates at Pennyhill Park.

Farrell will be in contention to return to action for Eddie Jones' side when they take on Australia at Twickenham next Saturday.

Formula One has re-affirmed its commitment to China, announcing Saturday that its deal with the Chinese Grand Prix has been extended through 2025. 

The Shanghai race has not been contested since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The stop was omitted from the 23-race F1 calendar for the 2022 season that was announced last month, with the series saying it would return as soon as possible. 

F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali echoed those sentiments in Saturday's announcement of an extended deal. 

"While we are all disappointed we could not include China on the 2022 calendar due to ongoing pandemic conditions, China will be restored to the calendar as soon as conditions allow and we look forward to being back with the fans as soon as we can," Domenicali said in a release. 

Lewis Hamilton won the last race there and has been victorious in six of the 16 editions of the event, four more than any other driver. 

 

 

New York's newly elected mayor has no plans to change the city's coronavirus vaccination mandate, saying it is up to the NBA and Kyrie Irving to find a solution that will get the Brooklyn Nets star back on the court. 

The 29-year-old remains unvaccinated and is therefore ineligible to play home games at Barclays Center or games at the New York Knicks' Madison Square Garden.

Under current city restrictions, people in New York must have at least one coronavirus vaccine to enter indoor arenas, and mayor-elect Eric Adams told CNN on Friday the policy will remain in place when he takes office January 1.

"New York City is not going to change their rule," Adams said. "It is up to the NBA and Kyrie to come to a full understanding on how to keep him on the Nets and to continue to look at all of our athletes that are coming here. Again, I think the NBA and Kyrie [are] going to come to a conclusion on this."

Asked about Adams' remarks after the Nets' 96-90 road win against the Detroit Pistons on Friday, Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash said he was not surprised. 

"I didn't expect the mayor to change the mandate," Nash told reporters. "We've just got to focus on our team. If we could have Kyrie back, we'd all be ecstatic, but we focus on our team, we keep building, we keep growing and hopefully we'll be a really good team at the end of the year." 

After a sluggish start to the season, the Nets have won four in a row and sit at 6-3 following Friday's victory. 

Irving would be eligible to play in most road games but the Nets said three weeks ago that Irving would not be with the team in any capacity until he can be a full participant. 

The seven-time All-Star has played just 74 regular season games in two years since joining the Nets, missing long stretches due to injury issues and personal reasons.

 

Last year, on the same team as high-profile team-mates Kevin Durant and James Harden, Irving scored 26.9 points per game. That dropped to 22.7 points in the playoffs as he was again restricted.

Dominic Thiem has confirmed he has been given a coronavirus vaccine and will return to action in Abu Dhabi next month with the objective of playing in the 2022 Australian Open.

The 2020 US Open champion has been out of action since suffering a wrist injury at the Mallorca Championships in June.

Thiem on Tuesday revealed he has made good progress with his recovery and will play in the World Tennis Championship, an exhibition event that will be staged from December 16-18.

The 28-year-old had stated he wanted to wait for a Novavax jab, but was urged by Austrian minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection Wolfgang Muckstein to take an alternative vaccine as his preferred choice would not be available until next year.

Thiem says he has now been vaccinated and is relishing getting back on court as he eyes a grand slam return in Melbourne in January.

"I am very happy to announce that my recovery is going well. The MRI I did today showed that my wrist injury has improved significantly," Thiem tweeted on Tuesday.

"A couple of weeks ago I started playing with soft balls and was able to switch to normal tennis balls during yesterday's practice session. My team and I strongly believe that I'll be ready to make my comeback later this year.

"I'll be returning to competition in December and will be playing the MWTC 2021 in Abu Dhabi – with the objective to return to the Tour for the 2022 Australian Open.

"Needless to say that the vaccine is needed to play both events, and in my case I have already been vaccinated. I saw recently some news about this and I had to make it very clear that I would get vaccinated. Hopefully the next time things won't be taken this far [sic] as I saw last week..."

Rafael Nadal is also set to return from injury in Abu Dhabi.

Novak Djokovic's participation at the Australian Open has been cast in doubt once again as Victorian premier Daniel Andrews indicated the state that hosts the event will not welcome those who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Australian minister for immigration Alex Hawke revealed last week Djokovic, who has won a record nine titles at Melbourne Park, could only take part in January's tournament if he has received both jabs.

But the 20-time grand slam winner, who has declined to reveal his vaccination status, was given hope of competing after prime minister Scott Morrison said there would be exemptions should the state of Victoria – which includes Melbourne – agree.

However, responding to those comments on Wednesday, Andrews made clear his government would not apply for any sort of dispensation as it would not be fair on the other players and spectators who are fully vaccinated.

"The federal government manages the border and to the extent that anything the federal government says on this is clear, because their position has gone 180 from what the immigration minister said," Andrews said.

"What I'm making equally clear on behalf of every vaccinated Victorian who is doing the right thing... the only fair thing to do is to be very clear with every Victorian, my government will not be applying for an exemption for any unvaccinated player."

Recent reports suggested that over a third of professional players on the ATP Tour remain unvaccinated ahead of the 2022 Australian Open, which runs for two weeks from January 17.

Andrews added: "I'm not going to ask and actually require people sitting in the grandstand, people working at the event, to be vaccinated while players aren't.

"So we're not going to be applying for an exemption, so the issue is basically resolved."

Andrews also stated the same approach will be taken when Formula One returns to Melbourne in April next year.

Speaking last week, world number one Djokovic – who beat Daniil Medvedev earlier this year to win his latest Australian Open crown – told Serbian newspaper Blic: "Things being as they are, I still don't know if I will go to Melbourne.

"I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not, it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry.

"Of course I want to go, Australia is my most successful grand slam tournament. I want to compete, I love this sport and I am still motivated.

"I am following the situation regarding the Australian Open... I believe there will be a lot of restrictions just like this year, but I doubt there will be too many changes."

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