Despite hours of rumour and speculation, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has confirmed the 2020 premiership will go ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Less than 24 hours before the round one kicks off, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has finally confirmed the AFL premiership will not be postponed.

The coronavirus outbreak has wreaked havoc on the sporting world, with speculation accumulating as to whether the AFL and AFLW would go ahead as planned. Meanwhile overseas, events such as the NBA, have been completely cancelled.

However, McLachlan confirmed the 2020 AFL premiership will commence on Thursday evening with a Melbourne derby in an empty MCG.

Meanwhile, the final two rounds of the AFLW have been scrapped and the women’s competition will progress directly to finals this weekend.

The decision comes after days of deliberation and a four-hour AFL Commission meeting.

McLachlan also revealed AFL match quarters will be reduced to 16 minutes.

“Today’s deflection point was reached after widespread conversations … Our 17-round season becomes a 153-game journey,” McLachlan told reporters on Thursday evening.

“We have to be agile and flexible. Quarters will be 16 minutes plus time on. We know at any time a player may test positive and halt our journey temporarily.”

“We start tomorrow night, confident after discussions with the chief medical officer that the players are well-placed for the proportionate risks of contact sport. We commence on government advice that putting on a game sits within the new guidelines from this morning.”

Earlier in the week, McLachlan announced the AFL premiership would be reduced to 17 rounds and without crowds for an unknown period of time. It was also reported all 18 AFL clubs expressed their support for the season starting this weekend.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the nation this morning about the additional steps to be taken to fight the spread of coronavirus, announcing bans on indoor gatherings of 100 people or more, and bans on outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more.

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