A young Highlanders fan. Photo: Martin Hunter/Getty Images

This weekend, New Zealand's Super Rugby league will become the world's first major sports league to return from the shutdown without crowd restrictions.

The state of play: Some 20,000 fans are expected to be on hand in Dunedin when the Highlanders host the Chiefs, the first Super League game since mid-March.

  • And a record 35,000 could show up on Sunday in Auckland (New Zealand's largest city) when the Blues host the Highlanders.

The backdrop: There are currently no active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, and the country largely opened up its society on Monday, including stores, restaurants and public transportation.

  • Overall, New Zealand has confirmed 1,154 cases and 22 deaths from over 294,800 tests. It has reported no new cases for 21 days.

Meanwhile, in Australia ... Australian rules football also resumes this weekend. Though Australia is not quite ready for full stadiums, 2,000 fans will be in the stands for a game between the Port Adelaide Power and the Adelaide Crows.

Go deeper: New Zealand is now free of coronavirus

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May 13, 2020 - Sports

Sports leagues are preparing for an era without fans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the turn of the century, futurist Watts Wacker predicted that sports stadiums of the future would essentially be sound stages optimized for TV, rather than coliseum-like structures built to seat thousands of fans.

Why it matters: Prior to the coronavirus, things were already moving in this direction, with teams building smaller, more intimate venues in response to declining attendance and changing viewing habits.

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Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases

Data: Covid Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

Florida reported 15,299 confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday — a new single-day record for any state, according to its health department.

The big picture: The figure shatters both Florida's previous record of 11,458 new cases and the single-state record of 11,694 set by California last week, according to AP. It also surpasses New York's daily peak of 11,571 new cases in April, and comes just a day after Disney World reopened in Orlando.

Pelosi: Trump is "messing with the health of our children" with push to open schools

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' aggressive push to fully reopen schools this fall is "malfeasance and dereliction of duty," accusing the Trump administration of "messing with the health of our children."

Why it matters: Trump has demanded that schools reopen as part of his efforts to juice the economy by allowing parents to return to work, despite caution from health officials that little is known about how the virus impacts children.