19 March 2020

AFL confirms round one to go ahead

The AFL has confirmed that round one of its 2020 season will commence on Thursday (March 19).

AFL commissioners met on Wednesday (March 18) and voted to start the season – despite lingering COVID-19 concerns – after a series of emergency meetings and phone hook-ups held at the AFL’s Docklands headquarters.

Games will be shortened to 16 minutes plus time on giving the AFL room to push more games into a smaller window at the start of the season, while the AFLW fixture to progress directly to the finals series and forgo the final two rounds of the regular season.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan announced the League had come to its decision after "wide consultation" with the football industry, Australia's chief medical officer and Government representatives.

"We also embark on this journey with clear instruction from the government that all industry and all parts of society need to keep moving forward and we simply cannot stand still," McLachlan said.

"We must go forward day by day listening to the advice and continue to make the best decisions for our industry while balancing well-being, welfare, leadership, and economic and social impacts. We don’t know how many games we will get into this 153-game journey before we have to pause.

"But what I do know today is I feel comfortable with the government and medical advice, and the support of our presidents, CEOs, players and coaches.”

No decision has been made on Swans-Essendon game at the SCG on March 27 or future events at the venue.

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