Bengaluru, March 21: Despite an increase in coronavirus cases all over the world , Australia pressed on with matches in its three main football leagues, playing in empty stadiums in an effort to halt the spread of the pandemic.
Around the world sports have suspended leagues or canceled tournaments until restrictions can be lifted on public gatherings or social contact.
But in Australia, it is business as usual with the A League, the National Rugby League and Australian Rules Football's (AFL) played on in the midst of the coronavirus crisis that has seen more than 1,000 Australians infected.
The A League continued in the 24th round of a 29-round season. When second-placed Melbourne City beat Central Coast 4-2 in the first match of the round, three Melbourne supporters watched from a bridge next to the Gosford stadium and another peered through the stadium gate.
The AFL opened its 22-round season this weekend with the first of nine matches. In normal times the league attracts enormous audiences, especially in Victoria State where crowds of more than 80,000 are common.
Rugby league played the second round of its NRL season, also in closed stadiums. The financial imperatives to continue are greater on rugby league than A League or AFL because its finances have been precarious in recent years and some clubs might not survive a lengthy disruption.
The decision to play on while other sports have halted may be an opportunity for the sport to expand its audience beyond some regions in Australia, or may be even globally.
(With inputs from Agencies)