THE 2020 AFL season is all systems go.
While no one, including the AFL commissioners who Wednesday night voted to start the season as per normal, knows how many matches will be played, it was decided the traditional Richmond-Carlton AFL season opener on Thursday night at the MCG would proceed.
Another series of emergency meetings and phone hook-ups at the AFL's Docklands headquarters to deal with the devastating Coronavirus outbreak finally gave the all-clear for the 2020 start, after weeks of detailed deliberations.
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.
Nearing on 8pm on Wednesday night, 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," he 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," he said.
"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.
"Tonight, our industry is unified in making a decision to start."
The AFL Players Association advised the AFL on Tuesday its players wanted to start the season, as did club CEOs in a teleconference hook-up on Wednesday morning.
In a Wednesday 9am address to the nation, Prime Minister Scott Morrison directly placed the onus of making a decision to play matches onto the AFL commission.
Despite banning mass gatherings of 100 or more people, Mr Morrison said it was up to the AFL to determine if it proceeded with matches.
The AFL had been hoping for a government directive, be that an exclusion provision to play matches or an ordered ban.
Instead, it was forced to make the decision itself.
The decision came two days after the AFL commission had reduced the 2020 season from 22 matches per club to 17 in a bid to provide flexibility on scheduling in a season which is guaranteed to be severely interrupted.
The AFL boss said it was important that the players were "unequivocal" in their determination to play.
McLachlan said the League was still looking at pushing in more games into the opening block of the season, but that the first four rounds of match-ups remain locked in.
"It's going to be day-by-day, but if we can accelerate it we will," he said.