Pop starlet Miley Cyrus has cancelled her Melbourne bushfire relief concert amid fears for the growing coronavirus outbreak.
The singer announced via Twitter on Tuesday she was disappointed not to be in Australia but told fans she had to do what was right to protect the health and safety of her band and crew.
The concert was scheduled for Albert Park’s Lakeside Stadium on Friday, as part of the Formula One Grand Prix weekend.
“I will still be making a donation to help the victims of the Australian bush fire,” she said.
“I’m sorry to miss everyone in Australia, but I will be back soon.”
Concert organisers TEG Dainty said fans would be contacted to receive a full refund on their tickets.
Another show organised by the company and headlined by Robbie Williams will go ahead as planned on Saturday.
Cyrus said her decision was based on the recommendations of local, state, federal and international government authorities to reduce potential health risks.
It came as Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott maintained there was no chance of the race being cancelled or held without fans, despite fears of the expanding risks of the virus outbreak.
Mr Westacott said Sunday’s F1 race at Albert Park would go ahead as planned. He confirmed Alpha Tauri and Ferrari cars had already landed at Avalon Airport, west of Melbourne, from Italy.
There is “enhanced screening” for people travelling to Australia from Italy, with every F1 team required to clear customs.
Also on Tuesday, the Italian government locked down the entire country. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the country’s 60 million people should stay home if at all possible.
Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 22, have already said it will take place without fans. But Mr Westacott said there was “not a chance” of Melbourne’s race being held before empty grandstands.
“When you look at 86,000 at the MCG last night (for the World T20 cricket final), and the footy the week after, we’ve got to go around things sensibly and keep moving on through life while taking the necessary precautions,” he told SEN radio.
“The Alpha Tauri cars and the Ferrari cars are on their way from Avalon as we speak, so it’s really good.
“The key personnel are on their planes. Interestingly, the only two people who didn’t hail from Italy were Sebastian Vettel, who came out of Switzerland, and Charles Leclerc coming out of Monaco via Nice.
“All the others are on their way, and we’re expecting [them] in the next 12 to 24 hours.”
Sporting competitions around the world have been disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, with some governments banning mass gatherings. On Monday, organisers of the prestigious Indian Wells tournament – tennis’s biggest event outside the grand slams – cancelled it just a day before it was to start.
The AFL is reportedly making plans for cancelling matches or playing in front of empty grandstands.
AFL GM of clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld told the Herald Sun the league was in regular contact with government and health authorities.
“We’re opening the season in two weeks’ time and hopefully in front of really big crowds on the Thursday night in our opening match. If that information changes, then our fans should feel confident and assured that we’ll be well prepared for that,” he said.
“There’s some uncertainties, and all we can do is best plan for what we know right now.”
The NRL – whose season opens this Thursday night – has been emailing its 16 club chiefs almost daily with coronavirus updates and information.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has refused to rule out games being played in empty stadiums because of virus fears.
Mr Greenberg told the ABC on Tuesday the season would go ahead as usual, but the NRL might have to act to prevent COVID-19 spreading 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.
The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, which was scheduled for April 19, has also been postponed.