NRL chief Todd Greenberg said that the NRL will listen to government advice. (AAP: Dean Lewins)
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has refused to rule out games being played in empty stadiums because of fears over coronavirus.
- The 2020 NRL seasons kicks off in Sydney on Thursday
- Fans have been told not to attend games if they are sick
- All sport in Italy has been suspended until at least April 3
Mr Greenberg said the season is going ahead as usual, but the NRL may have to take action to prevent the spread of the virus among its supporters.
“We certainly hope we don’t get to that point, but we’ll listen to that advice, and if we have to act we will,” he said.
Most NRL teams are based in New South Wales, where the virus has spread the most rapidly, with more than 50 confirmed cases.
The new season kicks off on Thursday when Parramatta Eels face Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
Mr Greenberg is encouraging fans to follow the latest government health advice and to go out and watch their favourite teams.
“Everyone continue to go to public events, everyone continue to do your normal activities, but if you’ve got a flu or a fever don’t go,” he said.
The COVID-19 outbreak has created major disruptions to other elite sporting leagues.
After being played in empty stadiums last weekend, Serie A matches will now be suspended. (Reuters: Massimo Pinca)
Prior to the suspension football matches in Italy’s Serie A have been played behind closed doors.
Italy’s game against England in rugby’s Six Nations championship this weekend has been suspended, as was the Italians’ match against Ireland in Dublin last weekend.
Coronavirus has also impacted the Matildas’ Olympic qualifying campaign, leading to most of their matches being moved or postponed.
Their final away match against Vietnam tomorrow night will be played in an empty stadium.
Last year, most NRL games averaged 15,000 spectators, and more than 80,000 fans attended State of Origin game III in Sydney.
Mr Greenberg said huge crowds are something to be wary of while the virus is yet to be contained.
“Like every industry we’re watching it closely and we’ll have to have some plans in place if it gets worse,” he said.
Playing games in empty stadiums could create problems for NRL fans who have already purchased memberships with their clubs.