Aussie footy codes lock out fans in 'unprecedented' coronavirus move

Australian sporting codes are shutting out fans as the coronavirus pandemic forces the cancellation of the Formula One grand prix in Melbourne.

The NRL will stage games from next weekend in empty stadiums after the government announced a ban on non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people, effective Monday.

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In confirming that round two matches would be played without fans inside the grounds, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg pledged to assist affected clubs in any way possible.

"It's going to have significant financial impacts on all 16 clubs and the game," he said.

"We're in unprecedented times. If they're in financial difficulty we'll keep them afloat. We'll get through this together.

"We're going to work through the next week and work out the impact for clubs. These are significants amounts of money for clubs over the course of the year.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has confirmed that round two matches will be played behind closed doors. Pic: Getty

"All 16 clubs are in the same position and listening to the same advice and getting into an alignment for this weekend's games.

"If something changes we'll pivot and assess it accordingly. The good part about State of Origin is it doesn't start for a couple of months. Hopefully it changes. If we make changes now we might get the benefit of that in a month's time."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ban on non-essential mass gatherings would take effect from Monday, leaving sports holding crisis meetings to formulate responses.

The Prime Minister said despite the advice about avoiding public gatherings, he will still attend Saturday's Cronulla Sharks clash with South Sydney, seeing as though the ban comes into effect on Monday.

"I still do plan on going to the football on Saturday," he said.

"I would be going along on Saturday because I previously planned to and these measures come into play next week."

Greenberg said Friday night matches would proceed with spectators but round two games would be held in empty stadiums, like Australian cricket's one-dayer against at the SCG.

"We've listened to the authorities who are in a far better position than we are," he said.

"If the government gave us advice today to close the stadiums down we would have. The measures they're putting together are precautionary measures.

"We're going to do everything we can to protect players from the disease. If that means a club can't play a game in the competition or be stood down for the round we'll do that."

Sporting events around Australia affected by coronavirus

Basketball authorities say the NBL's grand final series, from game two on Friday night, will be closed to spectators.

Games in the AFL's women's league will also be in empty stadiums from Saturday.

The AFL's men's competition also announced on Friday that fans would be locked out of the opening round in response to the threat of coronavirus.

Soccer and rugby union are expected to follow suit in moves aimed at curtailing the outbreak of the potentially deadly virus.

Swimming's hierarchy have called off next month's national championships in Perth while Australia's men's cricket team began a one-day international against New Zealand in an empty Sydney arena on Friday.

The Australian Grand Prix was the first sporting event in the country to be cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Organisers made the decision to stop the season opener while spectators were queuing to enter Melbourne's Albert Park circuit on Friday.

The call was based on fresh advice from health officials and after 14 people linked to the grand prix were tested for coronavirus - one, a McLaren team member, tested positive.

Supercars races scheduled for the circuit on Friday and over the weekend were also cancelled.

Other Australian sports have no choice but to follow other leagues around the world in holding games without spectators or suspending competition.

Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said the decision to play games without spectators was common sense "in the face of an unprecedented public health issue".

Australia's cricket match against New Zealand on Friday was forced to be played behind closed doors. Pic: Getty

CA also scrapped a national women's tour of South Africa scheduled for next week as paceman Kane Richardson was quarantined from the rest of the men's squad because of a sore throat which medicos were confident wasn't linked to coronavirus.

Football Federation Australia called off next month's friendly between the women's national team and the United States in Utah.

The FFA said A-League matches and W-League semi-finals on Friday and over the weekend would go ahead with crowds in a bulletin issued before the government's ban on mass gatherings.

The AFL was also in crisis talks on Friday. AFLW matches are scheduled on Friday and over the weekend while the men's premiership season is slated to start next Thursday night.

The World Surf League also suspended all events this month.

Overseas, elite European soccer leagues in France, Spain and the Netherlands are the latest to suspend all matches.

The English Premier League has called an emergency meeting after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta contracted coronavirus, with the club's entire squad now in quarantine.

Global tennis tournaments have been postponed until at least April 20.

In golf, the PGA Tour has cancelled the rest of The Players Championship and shut down other tournaments for the three weeks while the LPGA has postponed three tournaments.

The NBA's suspension of games will last at least 30 days and possibly the entire season, NBA commissioner Adam Silver says.

The United States' Major League Baseball has postponed spring training matches at least a fortnight and America's National Hockey League has suspended games.

With AAP