All sport in Italy has been suspended until at least April 3 because of the coronavirus outbreak, including games in the country’s top-flight Serie A football division and Six Nations rugby union matches.
Prime minister Guiseppe Conte told Italians to “stay at home” in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus across the county.
“There’s no reason for the games to continue,” Mr Conte said.
“The fans will have to deal with it. We won’t even allow gyms to be used.”
A new government decree that will come into effect today and last until April 3 will stop games in Italy’s top football division and preparatory events for the Tokyo Olympics.
Italy has seen the largest outbreak of the virus in Europe, with more than 7,000 confirmed infections and 463 deaths.
Vincenzo Spadafora, Italy’s Sports Minister, had earlier described Italian football officials as being “irresponsible” for allowing games to continue in the midst of the crisis.
Italy’s top soccer division continued as normal on Sunday, albeit with five games played in empty stadiums, including the top-of-the-table Derby D’Italia between Juventus and Inter Milan.
The Italian players’ union, the AIC, also criticised the move to allow games to go ahead this weekend.
“The signals that the sporting institutions are sending out are terrible,” a statement released by the body read.
“The teams went out and played today unfortunately out of a sense of duty towards those who don’t have the courage to decide that football isn’t an exception when it comes to the coronavirus.”
Twelve rounds of the season remain, with eight-time defending champion Juventus holding a one-point lead over Lazio.
Serie A has not had a season cancelled since World War II.