AFL Season Reduced To 17 Rounds
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has announced the AFL season will be reduced to 17 rounds due to the coronavirus.
McLachlan made the announcement on Monday afternoon after days of speculation around the season opener on Thursday.
The reduced rounds means every team will only play each other once in 2020.
"This is, and will be, a difficult time for the whole of the Australian public," he said
"In facing this difficult and unprecedented time, clubs, players, broadcasters and corporate partners are determined and united.
"We are determined to be part of the whole community response to slow this virus down, and in doing so help the broader community and out healthy systems to cope."
State competitions and national talent programs will delay the start of their seasons until the start of May.
"The decisions we have made give us flexibility across 2020," McLachlan said.
A series of meetings between major stakeholders -- including the league, clubs, government and health authorities -- had taken place on the day to reach the decision.
McLachlan said the situation remains fluid and a final decision had not yet been made on the opening round of the AFL and round seven of the AFLW this weekend.
"We have meetings with clubs, players and industry partners in the next 24 hours," he said.
McLachlan also said that if a player were to test positive to COVID-19, the competition would be postponed for at least two weeks.
"Ultimately that would mean the stand down of the club, and for the integrity of the competition that would be we would put a standstill to that round of football," he said.
On Monday, Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury was reportedly tested for the coronavirus and cleared after being put in quarantine away from his teammates.
The 32-year-old star appeared at the AFL's annual captains' day last Tuesday but later exhibited flu-like symptoms and missed two training sessions, including one on Monday.
The Magpies have not yet addressed the reports publicly and it remains to be seen whether Pendlebury will play in their season opener against Western Bulldogs on Friday night.
More to come.