Australian Rules-AFL to restart season on June 11: chief exec

by Reuters
Friday, 15 May 2020 03:17 GMT

(Recasts with restart date of season)

MELBOURNE, May 15 (Reuters) - The Australian Football League season will resume on June 11, with players to return to training from Monday, Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said on Friday.

The Australian rules top flight, the country's most popular winter sports league, was suspended in March after one round of the season when domestic travel curbs to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak made the competition untenable.

"Our 2020 AFL premiership season will resume on Thursday June 11," McLachlan told reporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday.

"All players and returning football department staff are being tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to the club and that testing is continuing today."

McLachlan told local radio station 3AW earlier on Friday that teams would return on Monday for a week of non-contact training before full contact practice from May 25.

"All players are taking education sessions on the protocols they will need to follow including rigorous ongoing screening and regular testing throughout both the training and return to play period," McLachlan told reporters.

"This will also apply for umpires and key matchday staff once the season resumes."

The 18-team AFL's resumption has been complicated by authorities in southern states declining to give clubs exemptions from travel curbs and quarantine restrictions.

McLachlan confirmed that clubs in South Australia and Western Australia would have to locate themselves in hubs in eastern states where authorities have granted exemptions.

Australia, which has reported 98 deaths and less than 7,000 COVID-19 cases, has begun to loosen social distancing restrictions after infection rates plunged. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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