Australian Open 2021: Australian Open thrown into chaos as Victoria enters five-day lockdown

Tennis fans will be shut out of the Australian Open after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has placed the entire state of Victoria into a five-day stage four lockdown. 

Andrews comfirmed that the Australian Open would continue but will occur without crowds as professional athletes are deemed "essential workers" so can continue, but behind closed doors.

The Premier said large-scale sporting events would operate as a "workplace" rather than an "entertainment venue". That means necessary staff can attend, but spectators cannot.

"Any number of other large and small professional sport events, they will function essentially as a workplace," Andrews says.

"But they will not function as an entertainment event, because there will be no crowds.

"And the workforce will be the minimum that is needed in order for that to be Covid-safe and safe in lots of other contexts."

It was comfirmed on Friday at a press-conference that the entire state of Victoria would move back to stage four restrictions will come into effect at 11:59pm on Friday, and are scheduled to end at the same time next Wednesday.

The move comes after Melbourne Airport's Holiday Inn coronavirus cluster grew to 13 cases on Thursday, with hundreds more people identified as close contacts. That brings the total of active coronavirus cases in the state up to 19.

These cases are infected with the UK variant of the disease, which is thought to be significantly more infectious. 

Players have raved about being able to play in front of fans for the first time since COVID-19 caused the tennis circuit to be halted. 

But that will now change with a stale atmosphere on the cards for future matches.

How this affects New Zealand's two sporting teams - Wellington Phoenix and NZ Breakers - is yet to be seen with the Breakers due to fly into Melbourne on Saturday but that is now in doubt. 

The Phoenix is scheduled to play the Melbourne Victory on Wednesday but that looks like now being rescheduled.