Some Serie A matches have been held behind closed doors in Italy while others have been cancelled. (Reuters: Massimo Pinca)
Empty stadiums. Cancelled events. Restrictions on public gatherings. These are just some of the things that could come into effect in Australia if coronavirus continues to spread.
It is already happening overseas, with Italy’s top tier soccer league — Serie A — playing its games in front of empty stadiums and cancelling matches.
In England, broadcasters and sporting bodies met on Monday to discuss staging events behind closed doors.
The Premier League and English Football League bodies have also scrapped pre-game handshakes.
Formula 1 has postponed the China Grand Prix and will stage its Bahrain leg with no crowds. The Moto GP event in Qatar — the opening race of the calendar — didn’t go ahead due to travel restrictions imposed on Italy.
Tweet: @MotoGP – Unfortunately, due to travel restrictions, the #MotoGP class is cancelled for the #QatarGP
Even the United States has been impacted, with the Indian Wells tennis tournament, often referred to as the “fifth major”, cancelled.
Dockers player tested for COVID-19
Closer to home, the Australian Football League is reportedly set to hold briefings with clubs today about the threat of COVID-19, while Asian Champions League matches have been cancelled for Perth Glory.
Tweet: @doclarkins If one single afl player contracts Covid-19 infection( with subsequent quarantine of all teammates & club staff)the entire 2020 season will be comprised- AFL must be discussing all scenarios right now
The Fremantle Dockers said yesterday one of their players was being tested after coming into contact with someone who had been isolated for 14 days after returning from China.
But despite the threat of the virus, Australia isn’t quite at the stage of cancelling events.
“The Department of Health at a Federal and State level, as the lead agencies, have not provided advice to cancel, scale back or postpone public events due coronavirus,” a WA Government spokesperson told the ABC.
“The State Government, through Tourism WA, sponsors a wide range of events in Western Australia.
“Any cancellation or postponement of events would be the event holders’ decision.
“Tourism WA is closely monitoring the situation and working with event holders during this difficult time.”
Big-ticket international sports events in jeopardy
Aside from the Formula 1 GP in Melbourne, there are several other international sporting events approaching which could be impacted if restrictions are introduced.
The Margaret River Pro may be one of the events affected by a coronavirus outbreak. (Supplied: World Surf League)
Perth Stadium will host the Rugby Championship match between Australia and South Africa in August, while the Margaret River Pro begins in late April, and runs until early May, bringing with it surfers from around the world.
How the coronavirus outbreak progresses will determine the fate of these events, but based on the international experience, there is a very real chance of sporting events being played behind closed doors, or cancelled altogether.
What’s clear already is the virus outbreak represents a new frontier for sport in this country.