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India stifles Australia’s chase in Canberra to take 1-0 lead in T20 series


Justin Langer clashed with match referee David Boon before a controversial concussion substitution allowed Yuzvendra Chahal to spin India to victory in the opening Twenty20 international.

In a dramatic match at Canberra’s Manuka Oval, Australia fell 11 runs short of India’s 7-161, with the loss added to by a leg injury suffered by captain Aaron Finch.

Australia’s chase stumbled after an 56-run opening stand between Finch and D’Arcy Short, with Chalal taking 3-25 to be named man of the match.

After starting the game on the bench, Chalal was brought in to the match as a concussion replacement for Ravindra Jadeja at the change of innings.

Jadeja top edged a Mitchell Starc bouncer into his helmet while batting in the final over of India’s innings, but did not receive an on-field assessment.

Under the ICC’s rules, a doctor does not have to come on to the field immediately but would have had to at the end of the over had the innings not concluded.

Complicating the matter was that Jadeja had suffered an apparent hamstring injury in the previous over, and was clearly struggling to run during his unbeaten 44 from 23 balls.

Langer could be seen in a heated discussion with match referee David Boon in the innings break, as Jadeja was replaced by Chahal.

There was no confirmation from the Australian camp what the discussion was about, but Langer sat stony faced for the majority of the run chase.

Chalal then claimed the key first two wickets of Aaron Finch and Steve Smith, before also removing Matt Wade late to open up Australia’s lower order.

The legspinner had Finch caught on the long-on boundary to a great diving catch, while Smith and Wade both fell on the sweep.

Finch had earlier looked dangerous for Australia, flying to 35 off 26 balls and hitting one big six off his pads off Mohammed Shami.

But his leg remained a concern throughout.

He required attention during the innings, after he was hurt going down to field a ball at mid-off early in the game.

Australia have already rested Pat Cummins from the series, while Alex Carey was not selected on Friday but could return to open if Finch is ruled out.

Otherwise, Wade was vice-captain on Friday night while Steve Smith could loom as an option alongside Josh Hazlewood, Glenn Maxwell or Moises Henriques.

Earlier, Henriques produced the best bowling of his international career, claiming 3-22 on a wicket that suited him perfectly.

A man is seen on the grass with his hands clasped together in front of his face in a desperate position.
The Australians looked to have held India to a reachable total.(AAP: Lukas Coch)

His scalps included KL Rahul for 52 and Samson on 23, both caught in the deep on balls that held up slightly.

He also looked the most likely to get Australia home with the bat, hitting 30 from 20 balls before being given out lbw in a dismissal that sealed the hosts’ fate.

Mitchell Starc had the best night of his summer with 2-34, copping some tap late but bowling tight early and bowling Shikhar Dhawan with one that swung away.

Mitch Swepson capped an eventful 24 hours with the wicket of Virat Kohli, after only being called into the squad for Ashton Agar (calf) on Thursday night.

AAP



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Australia’s women’s T20 cricket team recognised for 2020 World Cup win with The Don gong at Sport Australia Hall of Fame awards


Australia’s women’s T20 World Cup winners have become just the second team to win The Don Award, after their memorable tournament victory at the MCG in March.

Their dominant win in the final was watched by 86,174 fans at the iconic venue — the largest crowd for a women’s sporting event in Australia and the record figure for a women’s cricket match globally.

The Don is presented annually at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF) awards to the athlete or team whose deeds most inspired the nation over the past 12 months — with the Socceroos in 2006 the only other side to be bestowed the honour.

Australia’s women cricketers have won successive T20 World Cups and five in total.

Meanwhile, former Wallabies captain John Eales was the 42nd member of the SAHOF to be elevated to legend status, 17 years after his induction.

The MCG crowd is visible during play in the women's Twenty20 World Cup final between Australia and India.
The crowd at the MCG was a record for a women’s sporting event in Australia.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

He is the first rugby union player to receive the honour — joining the likes of Wally Lewis, Cathy Freeman and Rod Laver in the category.

Eales won two Rugby World Cups — in 1991, aged just 21, and as captain in 1999.

The awards, conducted virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, also marked the induction of seven other Australian athletes to the SAHOF.

They were:

  • Olympic diving gold medallist Matthew Mitcham
  • Tour de France winner Cadel Evans
  • Woodchopping great David Foster
  • Basketball superstar Lauren Jackson
  • Two-time world netball championship winning captain Michelle den Dekker
  • Netball coaching legend Jill McIntosh
  • Sydney Olympics water polo gold medallist Bridgette Gusterson

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Australia’s FFA Cup winner to earn berth in Asian Champions League preliminary stage



Next year’s FFA Cup winner will receive a preliminary-round spot in the Asian Champions League (ACL) as part of several changes to the domestic competition.

The change offers further incentive to win the FFA Cup and means clubs from any level of Australian football could potentially compete in Asia provided they meet AFC club-licensing regulations.

Currently, the A-League premier receives a group stage spot in the ACL, with qualifying play-off spots handed to the team that finishes second on the table and either the third-placed team or the grand-final winner.

The A-League premier will still qualify directly for the ACL group stage but whether the FFA Cup winners will take the preliminary-round spot currently awarded to the second-place finishers or that of the third-place finishers or A-League grand final winners remains undecided.

Among other changes announced, Football Federation Australia (FFA) confirmed the FFA Cup final would be played at a neutral venue from next year, while both the final and semi-finals would take place on stand-alone weekends.

From the round of 32 — the point where A-League clubs enter the competition — there will be an open draw for the first time, though clubs will be divided into four geographic zones.

The number of final-round slots for both A-League clubs (10) and member federations (22) remains unchanged, meaning the bottom four 2020/21 A-League clubs will have to play off for two spots in the FFA Cup round of 32.

The Wollongong Wolves, the 2019 National Premier Leagues champions, will be granted entry into the 2021 round of 32 as the 2020 FFA Cup was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

FFA will also consult with “Australia’s football community” about renaming the FFA Cup as part of the organisation’s name change to Football Australia.

AAP



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Australia’s COVID-19 plan to boost tourism numbers


Exclusive: Australia’s word-class handling of coronavirus will be the drawcard for a new wave of “safety sojourns” when international borders eventually reopen.

Safety and security is the most important factor when choosing a destination and as a result of COVID-19, Australia is at the top of the global bucket list for international travellers.

In an exhaustive survey across 13 countries and involving 20,000 respondents, long held barriers to visiting Australia are now its strengths – with safety, security, world-class nature and wildlife all providing Australia with a competitive advantage.

Devastating though it has been for Australian tourism, the pandemic perversely presents a “re-set” opportunity for the sector,Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison told News Corp Australia.

In particular, Ms Harrison said it was a chance to focus on sustainable tourism.

Findings from Tourism Australia’s research also found:

* Global tourism looks to recover with demand for sustainable tourism practices is also increasing;

* the United States, United Kingdom and European destinations have all decreased in their appeal;

* New Zealand and Canada round out the top three desired locations by being less populated, nature-based destinations with relatively low COVID-19 impact.

“Australia’s relative isolation from the rest of the world, coupled with our sparsely populated land have never been more precious and desirable amongst travellers,” Ms Harrison said.

“Demand for sustainable tourism practices is also increasing as more and more people acknowledge travel as a positive force for good.

“Based on COVID and what we saw following the summer bushfires, we anticipate that the wellbeing of people, and our natural environment will be key considerations for many travellers in 2021.

“It would be safe to say ‘good’ is the new ‘cool’.

“Today’s travellers are increasingly engaging with sustainability issues and seeking out brands and experiences that are not only good for them, but good for the world around them.

“We know this is still a bit of a journey for many in our industry but we’re also seeing that taking even a just few small steps can often make an impact, including on the bottom line. “Many operators are already doing great work in this space and part of this is encouraging and helping them to promote their achievements.

“Australian already has a strong record when it comes to sustainable tourism practices, and we now have an opportunity to point to this record, by raising awareness of our many and often unheralded success stories.”

Booking.com spokesman Luke Wilson said “For Australia, like many countries in the Pacific, the impact the pandemic has had on travel has been keenly felt.”

Their own research findings from 20,000 people across 28 countries found safety, in regards to COVID-19, and an eco-conscious mindset were among their top five travel predictions for the future.

And that the impact of coronavirus has inspired people to not just be committed to protecting themselves, but also the places they visit.

Their report also found that 62 per cent expect more sustainable travel options and travellers will visit alternative destinations in a bid to avoid travelling during peak season and overcrowding.



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Scott Morrison shares Australia’s virus response


Scott Morrison is gearing up for day two of the virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.

The prime minister is attending the meeting from his office at The Lodge in Canberra, while he quarantines following his trip to Japan last week.

The coronavirus pandemic was at the centre of leaders’ discussions during day one of the summit.

This included calls for more co-ordinated international action to respond to the crisis, greater preparedness for the next pandemic, and making a vaccine and treatment “safe, affordable and available to all”.

“No one is safe until we are all safe,” many leaders agreed.

The need to support the World Health Organisation’s work was deemed critical to identifying pandemics early.

Mr Morrison and several others also noted the key role hope would play during the pandemic recovery, adding the progress on vaccine trials were part of that.

He told the summit that Australia’s response had been “relatively successful” in terms of suppressing the health impact and cushioning the economic blow with unprecedented fiscal support.

“With 75 per cent of jobs coming back Australia is now looking to build for the future,” Mr Morrison said.

Most leaders supported extending debt relief for vulnerable countries, and there were calls to keep trade and supply chains open, and for safe cross-border travel to resume.

Changes to the World Trade Organisation to help boost economic recovery across the world were also discussed.



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China attacks Australia’s ties with US in Global Times article


China has taken another swing at Australia, this time over its ties with North America.

Tabloid newspaper the Global Times has published an editorial piece titled “If Australia wants to remain Australia, it must tell the US”.

The publication hit back after comments made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this week that the country’s democracy was not up for trade.

“For most Chinese people, Australia is no longer the original Australia, but has become a vassal of the US in recent years,” it claimed.

The article then went onto quote anonymous readers.

“Australia looks only to the US and bites where the US points,” one said.

RELATED: The next Aussie export to face China trade attack

The Global Times pointed to Mr Morrison’s visit to Japan this week and his signing of a defence agreement of expanding Washington’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Australian politicians seem not to understand what national interests are, and view values as a pale excuse to follow the US,” it wrote.

“They are entangled as they repeat empty slogans on the one hand while worrying about their country’s trade prospects on the other.

“Australia needs to have independent diplomatic thinking.

“But Australia is doing just the opposite.

“What makes Australia not behave like itself is the US, not any other country.

“If Morrison wants his country to remain Australia, he should have said so to the US.”



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Doubts over South Australia’s ‘dangerous’ strain claim


South Australia was plunged into a strict six-day lockdown on the back of a declaration that a “dangerous” new strain of coronavirus had swept the state’s capital.

It was a claim that raised eyebrows among epidemiologists around the country, some of whom labelled it “rubbish”.

Today, it was essentially revealed that an alleged lie led health authorities and the government to conclude a new strain must have merged.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall sent the state into a lockdown in a bid to stop a coronavirus cluster spreading, an outbreak he initially labelled “a particularly sneaky strain”.

“[It’s a] highly contagious strain and if we don’t get on top of that very, very quickly it will get away from us and that will be disastrous for us in South Australia,” Mr Marshall said on Thursday.

“The elements of this are quite frightening. It’s quite different than anything we’ve seen before.”

Chief Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier claimed the strain the state was currently dealing with has a “very, very short incubation period”.

“That means when somebody gets exposed, it is taking 24 hours or even less for that person to become infectious to others and the other characteristic of the cases we have seen so far is they have had minimal symptoms and sometimes no symptoms but have been able to pass it to other people,” she said.

RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus updates

RELATED: Changes to South Australian restrictions

Professor Spurrier said that characteristic meant that a generation, or stage of people passing on the virus to others, was only about three days.

These claims the state was dealing with a dangerous new strain came before authorities revealed on Friday a person involved in the new cluster had allegedly lied to contact tracers.

One of the cases linked to the Woodville Pizza Bar initially told authorities he was a customer, leading to concerns about how he became infected so quickly.

The man later revealed he was actually a worker at the restaurant.

In light of the new information, the Premier announced the state’s lockdown would be ending early, with restrictions lifting on Saturday night.

Professor Spurrier also backed away from her previous claims about the outbreak, now saying “there is nothing about the genomics in any way that makes it particularly special, it’s just that we can fingerprint it and track it back to where it came from”.

But even before this new information came to light, multiple experts were questioning the claims this strain was more “sneaky” or dangerous than other virus strains seen in Australia.

Infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist at the Kirby Institute, Professor Greg Dore, called the claims “rubbish”.

“Great that SA Premier on front-foot, but to say ‘so it’s quite different than anything we’ve seen before’ because of number of people that have been detected as asymptomatic is *rubbish*,” he wrote on Twitter.

RELATED: No charges for liar who triggered lockdown

Professor Dore explained his comments to The Sydney Morning Herald, saying it was South Australias testing strategy that was making it seem like the virus is acting in a different way.

Because the state is testing a higher number of people without symptoms, it means they are more likely to pick up on asymptomatic cases.

“The virus has not changed at all. It’s just the detecting strategy,” Professor Dore said.

“It artificially elevates the asymptomatic proportion of cases, and it shortens artificially the incubation period.”

Doubts over claims of a new virus strain came before authorities admitted today

Emerging viruses researcher with the Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Dr Adam Taylor, said the characteristics of this virus explained by South Australian officials all match up with the major strain of the virus that has been circulating and don’t necessarily indicate a new strain.

RELATED: Big quarantine issue Aussies have missed

RELATED: Mass exit as hundreds dodge SA lockdown

“The characteristics they describe, such as ‘highly contagious’, may be a result of how the virus is interacting with humans, rather than a change in the virus,” he told The Guardian.

“For example, the rapid spread of the virus in this outbreak may be due to a superspreader event, possibly centred on the pizza parlour. This is a more likely scenario than the rise of a new virus strain.”

Dr Taylor said genome sequencing would have to be conducted to confirm it is a new strain and until then authorities can’t be completely sure they are dealing with something new.

Despite many virus experts questioning the premier’s the chief health officers claims, there are some that agreed this strain posed more of a risk to the community.

University of South Australia epidemiology and former World Health Organisation adviser, Professor Adrian Esterman, said this strain was “dangerous because it’s highly infectious”.

“This virus is what we call an RNA virus. All viruses are made of genetic material and they can be either DNA or RNA. Some viruses are RNA like HIV and influenza and they tend to mutate much more than DNA viruses,” he told Nine’s Today show.

“So the coronavirus is making small changes and every once in a while they make a big change which is why we need to make a big change.”

There have been 22 COVID-19 cases linked to Adelaide’s Parafield cluster.

More than 3000 people have been sent into quarantine and the state is now on lockdown in a bid to stop the outbreak growing.



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How Australia’s climate change policies compare to others in the G20


Australia’s record on climate change compared to other G20 countries has come under scrutiny in a new report.

The 2020 Climate Transparency Report, an annual collaboration between 14 think tanks and non-governmental organisations, is aimed at encouraging ambitious climate action.

The report has highlighted Australia’s poor performance as having one of the highest rates of subsidies for fossil fuels, for being one of only two countries not implementing a carbon pricing scheme and being one of the worst performers when it comes to emissions reduction in transport, energy efficient buildings and deforestation.

This year the report also analysed the countries’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic and warned that trillions more dollars were going towards to the fossil fuel industry as part of relief packages.

“Evidence suggests that COVID-19 recovery responses, thus far, have been disproportionately directed towards emissions-intensive and environmentally-damaging sectors,” the report notes. “This could contribute to emissions rebounding at a faster rate.”

It noted that Australia’s government had announced it would pursue a “gas-led” recovery and had provided unconditional support to coal, oil, and gas sectors as well as $US437 million in loans and tax deferrals to the airline industry.

While carbon emissions have fallen due to the pandemic and are expected to be 7.5 per cent lower across the G20 by the end of this year, this is expected to be temporary.

The report found the 20 member states of the G20 were still not on track for a 1.5C world and commitments made up to 2015 would lead to a 2.7C increase in global temperatures or higher.

Australia also ranked fourth among G20 member states for economic losses due to extreme weather events.

Between 1999 and 2018, Australia recorded an annual average loss of $US 2.4 billion due to these events. As a unit of GDP, this equates to an average annual loss of 0.25 per cent, only the US, India and China had higher costs.

The report, which analyses performance across 100 indicators of climate adaptation, mitigation and finance, noted that Australia’s per capita greenhouse emissions had decreased. However, there were areas where the country is falling behind other G20 members.

FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES

In 2019, Australia had one of the highest rates of fossil fuel subsidies per unit of GDP and this was well above the G20 average, along with countries like Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Italy, France, and Russia.

RELATED: Is PM’s gas plan a good idea?

It put $US7.2 billion towards subsidising coal, gas and electricity, although petroleum was the biggest beneficiary. However, some funding was also provided for clean energy, for example for hydrogen and battery storage.

In total, G20 countries, excluding Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UK, provided $US130 billion in subsidies to coal, oil, and gas in 2019, an increase from $US117 billion in 2018.

LACK OF CARBON PRICING SCHEME

Australia and India are the only two member states of the G20 that are not implementing, or in the process of implementing carbon pricing schemes, such as carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes.

The two countries are not even considering the implementation of such schemes.

This is in contrast to the UK, which saw its coal use plummet when it introduced a carbon tax in 2013.

USE OF FOSSIL FUELS

Australia saw the biggest jump in the use of fossil fuels for energy of any G20 member state between 2018 and 2019.

The proportion of coal, oil and natural gas used for energy grew by 6.7 per cent, much higher than in China, which only had an increase of 2.6 per cent.

In contrast, most other countries actually reduced their reliance on fossil fuels.

RELATED: Why Scott Morrison is silent on climate change

Australia’s carbon emissions per unit of power is also one of highest in the G20 — partly due to the country’s high reliance on coal and a smaller proportion of renewables — although emissions have decreased.

It still generates 82 per cent of its electricity from fossil fuels, mainly from coal (57 per cent). The use of natural gas has increased to 23 per cent of generation over recent years.

While renewable electricity is also increasing and makes up 18 per cent of the power mix, this is still less than the G20 average of 25 per cent.

The report gave Australia a “low” rating for its policy initiatives in this area, noting it had no policy to increase the share of renewables and no target or policy in place for reducing coal.

Instead the Federal Government is encouraging utilities to extend the lives of coal-fired power plants, promoting investment in new coal plants and providing subsidies for coal production and consumption.

The 2020/21 Budget will fund upgrades to an ageing coal-fired power station.

“To accelerate the global phase-out of coal power, G20 countries also need to end public financial support for coal domestically and abroad,” the report said.

“Public resources can instead be directed towards sustainable alternatives and supporting a just transition for affected workers and communities.”

Australia is the biggest coal exporter in the world, accounting for 29 per cent of the world’s coal exports – it uses only 16 per cent of its coal production domestically.

DIRTY TRANSPORT

Australia performs the worst in the G20 when it comes to policies to decarbonise the transport sector.

It has no target to phase out fossil fuel cars, no plans to phase out emissions from freight transport, no efficiency or emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles, and no longer-term strategy for promoting the greater use of public transport or changes to freight transport.

No decisions have been made on imposing fuel efficiency standards for light vehicles, and the national electric vehicle strategy announced in 2019 has not yet been released.

This compares with other countries like the UK, which plans to sell its last fossil fuel car by 2030 and Canada, which wants 100 per cent of its new cars to be electric vehicles by 2040.

Other countries with ambitious targets include Japan and France.

Carbon emissions in the transport sector among G20 countries grew by 1.5 per cent in 2019.

RELATED: Sobering report shows grim future

BUILDINGS ARE NOT ENERGY EFFICIENT

Australia was singled out, along with the US and Saudi Arabia for having the highest per capital building emissions in the G20. All three countries also lack strong policies to substantially reduce emissions in the sector.

In addition, Australia and Saudi Arabia do not have any policies for retrofitting existing buildings, although they do have some policies for new buildings.

LOSS OF TREE COVER

Australia is the only developed country that is considered a deforestation hotspot and 3-6 million hectares of forest could be lost in eastern Australia alone by 2030.

The country lost 6.11 million hectares of tree cover between 2001 and 2019 (not including any gains in cover), which equates to 14 per cent less tree cover than in 2000.

The report notes that the government has no policies or incentives in place to reduce deforestation, which are high compared to global standards particularly in the state of Queensland.

The primary driver of deforestation is pasture creation for livestock, which accounts for 88 per cent of forest clearing.

The government is also assuming that emissions generated by the huge fires in Australia up to 11 February this year will be absorbed by forest regrowth.

“Australia needs to protect existing forests and take necessary adaptation measures to guard against the devastating wildfires witnessed in recent years,” the report states.

However, among the G20 member states, Russia, Brazil, Canada, the US, and Indonesia have the highest relative tree-cover loss between 2001 and 2019.

While no countries have targets for reaching zero deforestation by the 2020s, which is compatible with 1.5C of warming; China, the EU and Mexico do have targets for net-zero deforestation.

Australia, along with France and Canada, have no policies in place.

NO NEW TARGETS

Many countries have said they intend to reach net zero emissions by 2050 including France, UK, the EU, Germany, Canada, South Africa, South Korea and Japan. China says it aims to be carbon-neutral before 2060.

Other cities going it alone include Buenos Aires, Cape Town, London, Mexico City, New York City, and Tokyo.

Australia has not adopted this target but every state and territory has, essentially making it the country’s target to achieve net zero emissions by 2020.

But these intentions have not been included yet each countries’ targets for the Paris Agreement.

Signatories to the agreement are expected to produce a new emissions target every five years, which is more ambitious than the previous target.

Countries were due to submit new targets this year but so far only Japan has done this — and it has not increased its target. Other countries have indicated they will do so in 2021 ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November.

Australia, along with Russia and Indonesia have already said they will not update their targets.

Australia’s current target aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which the report has labelled “insufficient”.

However, Australia’s target was considered better than other countries including the US, which were considered “critically insufficient”.

So far, only India’s target is compatible with 2C warming.

“We urgently need more ambition and leadership from the world’s biggest economies – and emitters – at the upcoming G20 Summit and next year’s UN Climate Conference” Humbolt-Viadrina Governance Platform’s Catrina Godinho said.

“The US election result offers some hope for international climate politics, but all G20 countries will need to do their part.”

THE GOOD NEWS

Significantly, emissions from G20 countries did decrease by 0.1 per cent in 2019, a significant turnaround from the 1.9 per cent increase in 2018 and the annual average growth rate of 1.4 per cent between 2005 and 2017.

This was partly achieved by a 2 per cent decrease in coal consumption, 2.4 per cent decrease in carbon emissions from the power sector, an increase in the use of renewables from 25 per cent of power generation to 27 per cent, and small decreases to emissions in the agriculture sector.

However, despite the decrease in coal consumption, fossil fuels still made up 81.5 per cent of the G20’s primary energy in 2020 because increases in gas (up 3 per cent) and oil (up 1 per cent) offset this.

The report noted the benefits of climate action included improvements to health and wellbeing, jobs and economic value creation, biodiversity and environmental resilience, financial security and fiscal benefits, and enhanced energy access and security.

“Increased climate action could trigger $US26 trillion in investments and generate 65 million low-carbon jobs worldwide by 2030,” the report noted.



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State of Origin decider: Game III will be Australia’s largest sporting event since COVID-19 began


The stakes are always high in a State of Origin decider.

But after a COVID-safe NRL season extended into October and an unprecedented back-to-back Origin series in Spring, tonight’s game will be rugby league’s big finale.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also upped the ante, increasing the crowd capacity at Lang Park to 100 per cent for Game III.

To put that in perspective, the 52,000-strong crowd tonight will be the largest sporting event in the country since the pandemic.

Game II at Sydney’s Olympic Park was played in front of 36,212, just shy of the NRL Grand Final a month prior, with 37,303 fans.

Queensland’s AFL grand final at the Gabba also had fewer than 30,000 people attending.

Those who attend the game will be closely monitored by the Queensland Government.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath yesterday revealed the ticketing company was tracing five people from Adelaide to make sure they don’t attend tonight’s match.

Fines remain in place for anyone who breaches Queensland’s quarantine rules, with Adelaide recently declared a COVID hotspot.

‘An amazing experience’

Both State of Origin sides held their final training sessions in their respective states yesterday.

NSW coach Brad Fittler conceded the Queensland game will be history making, regardless of the result, purely due to crowd numbers.

“That in itself will be an amazing experience, these blokes, a lot of them played in front of small crowds the whole season,” Fittler said.

The occasion is not lost on his Queensland counterpart Wayne Bennett, who knows the crowd will be in Queensland’s corner.

“No New South Wales people can travel up, virtually, and the players noticed it last week in Sydney — they couldn’t believe the atmosphere in Sydney with regards to the Blues because they heard nothing about themselves there,” he said.

“It’ll be [in] reverse, and it’ll all be Maroon.”

Home advantage

Pre-COVID history shows it’s a major advantage playing Origin at home.

Since 2000, the Maroons have an impressive record, winning 20 to 7 playing in Queensland.

A pub with a sign that says the caxton hotel
The Caxton Hotel in Brisbane the day before State of Origin 3 at Lang Park.(ABC News: Brittney Kleyn)

The NSW Blues have not claimed a decider at Lang Park since 2005.

Fittler said while history has been a big discussion in camp, statistics mean nothing in State of Origin.

It’ll be particularly memorable for 2,000 people in the crowd: front-line health care workers were gifted tickets from the NRL, for their service during the pandemic.

Atmosphere will almost feel like ‘before COVID’

A rite of passage for many Queensland faithful is a trip to the Caxton Hotel, which neighbours the stadium, in the lead up to kick off.

The hotel’s Katie Button said with social distancing still in place, despite restrictions easing, they’ll still be limited to 70 per cent capacity.

“We’ll still have the 1.5 metres within the venue then you’ve got to scan in through the QR code.”

Restrictions still apply to players too, in their respective COVID-safe bubbles, requiring NSW to travel in and out of Queensland on game day.

Queensland has not won a State of Origin series since 2017.

NSW took out last year’s shield after levelling the series in Game II then proceeding to win the decider.

The game kicks off at Lang Park at 7:10pm AEST.



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South Australia’s mystery COVID-19 source revealed as expert warns of ‘circulation’


Details surrounding the initial source of Adelaide’s latest coronavirus cluster have been revealed as South Australia races against the clock to contain its latest COVID-19 outbreak.

Genomic testing has found the mystery source is a traveller who came into Adelaide on November 2 and tested positive the next day.

South Australia’s chief health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier confirmed testing of the strain contracted by the first confirmed case of the Parafield cluster – an 80-year-old woman – identified the link with the person who came from abroad.

“We’ve tested her strain and we’ve linked it to somebody in the medi-hotel where her daughter worked,” Professor Spurrier said.

“The person who was the traveller arrived in South Australia on 2 November and was tested on 3 November. So, prior to this, prior to 2 November, we did not have COVID in the state, but that’s when it was introduced, this particular strain.”

It comes as dramatic scenes unfolded Tuesday afternoon at Peppers Adelaide as quarantining guests at the medi-hotel screamed from their balconies, devastated they won’t be able to leave, despite testing negative for coronavirus.

RELATED: WA brings in hotel quarantine after cluster outbreak

RELATED: SA imposes new restrictions as ‘critical’ hours begins

RELATED: ‘Very troubling’: Community transmitted cases in SA

Meanwhile a leading Australian epidemiologist has warned Australians of the seriously infectious rate of COVID-19 and that if you come close enough to be exposed to it, “you’re going to get it”.

She said the real question for South Australians was how much time or “circulation” the virus had in the community in the time between the initial infection occurring and the first case arising in the 80-year-old woman at the end of last week.

Dr Emma Miller, a senior lecturer and epidemiologist from Flinders University who is based in Adelaide, told news.com.au that “everyone that comes in contact with this is susceptible” and that “if you come in contact with it and are exposed, you’re going to get it.”

She says South Australia is “very much on the precipice” and there is potential the state could see a second wave if the virus continues to spread.

Burnet Institute epidemiologist Professor Michael O’Toole echoed those comments, describing South Australia’s outbreak as “kind of a microcosm of the beginning of the second wave in Victoria”.

Dr Miller said she understood the idea of quarantine is “scary” but defended public health officials saying the rules were in force due to an “abundance of caution”.

SA Health says there are now 20 confirmed cases linked to the Parafield coronavirus cluster and another 14 suspected cases that are showing symptoms and are close contacts of the already confirmed cases. They’re either waiting for test results or have had a negative test result but are being retested.

“These are people who are particularly younger children who have tested negative but may have symptoms and have a parent that’s positive,” Professor Spurrier said.

“We’re being extra, extra cautious”.

SA recorded five new cases Tuesday, one an aged care worker and three family members of a security guard who worked the medi-hotel. The fifth case has been confirmed and the person is being interviewed while the ages of the cases range from their teens to their 50s.

“That’s what the problem with this virus is,” Dr Miller told news.com.au.

“This is the problem with any pandemic virus, you’re talking about a novel virus which nobody has any resistance whatsoever.

“If you come in any meaningful way in contact with this virus and you don’t have any innate immunity or haven’t had it before, you’re going to get this virus.

“There are 7 billion people on this planet and that’s the problem, that’s why we have a pandemic.

“The fact that we’re all susceptible means that, while most with have a mild form of the disease, in absolute terms we’re getting a lot of deaths and a lot of serious complications as a result.”

The cluster has triggered closures and isolation warnings across the state with five schools shutting down for deep cleaning.

More than a dozen schools, hotels, cafes and supermarkets have been linked to the cluster and 4000 people who are considered close contacts of the confirmed case are now in quarantine.

Health investigators earlier said a cleaner became infected via surface at the quarantine hotel then passed the virus onto two security guards and members of their extended family.

“We’ve known this about all the respiratory viruses,” Dr Miller said.

“In fact most colds can be spread by fomites – the bug which is left on surfaces – and people touch those surfaces and then touch their eyes normally. It’s a very common way of spread.”

“We know how long this particular virus lives on surfaces and we know that it doesn’t stay long on paper, cotton, but it does stay for a long time on materials like steel and plastic.

“Most respiratory infections in cold and flu season can actually be spread that way, this is why we tell people to wash their hands, to not touch their eyes, that’s the easiest way not to spread respiratory infections.

As residents fear the worst, more than 6000 tests were expected to be completed on Tuesday and the state is on track for record testing numbers for a single day.

Yet Dr Miller says there’s no need to panic just yet and was confident the state health department was “swinging into action”.

“It sounds scary, but it’s actually not yet that bad,” she reassured.

“The new cases that have arisen are mainly attached to that original cluster. We’re still not seeing any large scale community involvement.”

Officials are racing against the clock to contain the spread of the virus in the state, while the South Australian premier Steven Marshall on Monday issued advice to residents to wear masks on public transport and where it’s not possible to socially distance.

Mr Marshall told residents his “unequivocal priority” was keeping the people of the state safe and strong but noted “time is now of the essence and we must act swiftly and decisively”.

“We cannot wait to see how bad this gets,” he said, as the cluster rose to up to 19 overnight, with at least 15 cases from the one family.

Dr Miller theorised that while a vaccine is the most likely source of the pandemic’s end, there was a possibility history could repeat itself and that the virus could die out naturally.

“It’s really difficult to tell because when you think about things like the Spanish flu at the beginning of the last century, that actually died out with no vaccine, likely due to mutation into a less lethal form” she said.

“For various reasons that happens with both bacterial epidemics as well, for instance, once we had the bubonic plague raging around the world, and cholera, they didn’t die out because of a vaccine, it just` died out.

Dr Miller said there have been lots of conversations and suggestions that could be due to herd immunity but it didn’t touch enough of the world to be able to explain it, although quarantining probably also helped.

“Sometimes these things just die out. In fact the nearest relative of the current virus is SARS and MERS and they just died out as well.”

She said the reason that scientists are so far ahead with vaccine development is because they “had already done all that work trying for vaccinations for the original SARS”.

“We could come up with a vaccine, it’s very likely it will happen, but probably other things will intervene,” she said.

“I don’t know whether this virus will die out naturally as have other pandemics have in previous generations or whether it’s going to disappear because we are going to have a vaccine, but eventually things will settle down.

“But what I know is that other ones will emerge”.



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