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AFL Prepares To Play Games Without Fans To Stop Coronavirus Spread

The AFL is preparing to play games without fans watching due to the global coronavirus outbreak, but round one of the premiership season will go ahead as planned.

League chief executive Gillon McLachlan spoke to reporters on Tuesday after the Victorian government warned that large gatherings will likely be impacted in the future as measures are taken to stop the spread of the virus.

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The Victorian Premier has warned "the time will come" for the state to take "extreme measures" in the wake of the spreading coronavirus.

"If mass gatherings are suspended we will play games in stadiums with no crowds ... we are also working on other protocols to protect not only players and staff but also members and supporters," McLachlan said.

"At an AFL club level, our football departments are elite sporting environments. Club doctors and medical staff are well equipped to work through any precautionary measures and manage any player health concerns – this is something they continue to do on a daily basis as they prepare for the season.”

Club captains at the 2020 AFL season launch. Image: AAP

Meanwhile, the Fremantle Dockers are breathing a sigh of relief after a player who was tested for coronavirus was given the all-clear.

The player, who was not named by the club, was tested on Monday suffering from flu-like symptoms.

The test came after he had contact with a friend who had been in China earlier this year.

Fremantle received good news on Tuesday when the test result showed negative for COVID-19.

"Given the club's position in the community, we made a decision on Monday afternoon to take a very conservative approach even though the player did not fit all the WA Health Department criteria for COVID-19 testing," Fremantle chief executive Simon Garlick said.

AFL is not the only Australian sport that's been impacted by coronavirus, with both national football teams also affected.

A number of European sports leagues are already playing behind close doors. Image: AAP

The Matildas' second-leg away match against Vietnam during the Olympic qualifiers will be played behind closed doors on Wednesday at Cam Pha Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Socceroos' qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been postponed.

"Following consultation with Asia's member associations, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have agreed to postpone the upcoming Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022," FIFA said in a statement on Monday.

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