With just days until the International 10 officially begins, Valve have issued refunds to all ticket holders after cancelling the live audience due to a surge in COVID cases.

Amid a huge surge in COVID19 cases in Romania, Valve has decided to pull the plug on fan attendance for the $40 million tournament. The playoff segment of the International 10 was set to begin on the 12th October with a live TI10 audience. Those fans will now be issued a full refund automatically.

New local restrictions and rise in COVID rates force Valve's hand on TI10 audience

Valve announced the TI10 audience news via an official post on the Steam webpage and the Dota 2 website:

"We have been carefully evaluating the continued rise of Covid rates in Romania, as well as the resulting introduction of new local restrictions in Bucharest. To ensure the safety of all players, talent, and production staff participating in the event, we have decided to refund all ticket sales for The International 2021.

We wanted nothing more than to welcome fans live to the event, but we can no longer do so in a way that allows us to prioritize the health and well-being of both audience members and participants. Those who purchased tickets will be issued a full refund automatically.

The International 2021 will begin as planned on October 7, and we look forward to welcoming the best Dota teams in the world to the stage and sharing the experience online with millions of fans around the world." - Valve in their official post on Steam.

The decision comes following a huge spike in COVID cases and deaths, which has triggered the Romanian government to issue a string of restrictions looking to control the outbreak.

This is yet another blow to the International 10, which was initially set to take place in Sweden in August, but was moved to Romania in order to potentially include a live audience. At the time of the decision to move the event to Bucharest, COVID cases in Romania were low, but since the start of September they have continued to rise.

Travelling fans likely to incur costs of flight and hotel

While Valve has offered a full-refund on ticket purchases, the proximity of the decision to cancel the TI10 audience to the event will likely have financial ramifications on fans who decided to make the trip.

Despite Bucharest being confirmed as the new location of TI10 on July 7th, the presence of an audience was not confirmed until over 2 months later on September 16th. Valve said on September 3rd this delay was due to the developing Delta variant. Tickets eventually went on sale a week later on September 23rd, just two weeks before the start of the event.

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We will update this article with more information as we gather it.