While major sporting events around the world have continued to fall like dominoes, the AFL has chosen to press ahead in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The French Open, Euro 2020 and Copa America, which the Socceroos were slated to take part in, on Wednesday became the latest notable sporting events to be postponed because of the health crisis.
It came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a series of new restrictions designed to help curb the spread of coronavirus in Australia
He flagged that some measures, such as those preventing crowds from attending sport fixtures, could last at least six months but stopped short of telling the AFL and NRL what to do.
Without that direction, the AFL Commission held a marathon meeting before deciding the season would begin as scheduled with the clash between Richmond and Carlton at the MCG on Thursday night.
“Our industry is unified in making a decision to start,” said AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan.
“The reality is that this season will not look like any other.
“As I said earlier in the week this is an unprecedented challenge and it is going to take unprecedented action to get through it all.
“We’ve taken action in both the men’s and women’s seasons.
“The 153 games will not look like a standard 17-round season.
“But footy is resilient and footy will find a way through.”
The competition will be postponed immediately if and when any player or official tests positive to coronavirus.
The AFLW season will also continue this weekend with the opening finals games after the concluding two home-and-away rounds were scrapped.
The NRL will also push ahead for round two, although it will be played behind closed doors like the AFL.
Uncertainty gripping the sporting landscape was also reflected in the NBL, which is yet to decide who should be declared champions after abandoning its five-game finals series with Perth leading Sydney 2-1.
The rest of the A-League season will continue mainly on Australia’s east coast, while Football Federation Australia confirmed Melbourne City would host Sydney FC in the W-League grand final at AAMI Park on Saturday.
Supercars was more decisive on Wednesday, when it announced racing would be postponed until June.
Meanwhile, the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead.