WNBA postpones start of season this month because of virus

Sports

FILE – In this Sept. 29, 2019, file photo, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks at a news conference before Game 1 of basketball’s WNBA Finals between the Connecticut Sun and the Washington Mystics, in Washington. The WNBA draft will be a virtual event this year. The league announced Thursday, March 26, 2020, that its draft will still be held April 17 as originally scheduled, but without players, fans or media in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The WNBA draft is a time to celebrate the exceptional athletes whose hard work and dreams are realized with their selections in the draft,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA has postponed the start of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic, with no indication when play would begin.

The league was scheduled to open training camps April 26 and the regular season was set to begin May 15. The WNBA will still hold a “virtual” draft April 17.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement Friday the league will “use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats.”

“Our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees,” Engelbert said.

The WNBA, which was set to begin its 24th season, is the longest running professional women’s sports league.

Every other major sports league has been put on hold due to the virus.

The postponement of the 2020 Olympics gives the WNBA flexibility with its schedule. The league was set to go on a monthlong break starting July 10 to allow players to participate in the Tokyo Games.

Two WNBA cities are major hot spots for the virus: New York and Seattle. One of the the Storm’s homes for the season, the Angel of the Winds Arena, is being used as a coronavirus isolation site.

The Las Vegas casino where the Aces play is shut, as is the Connecticut Sun’s home arena.

“We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to our players, fans, and all of those in the community impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are grateful to those selfless health care workers and first responders who work tirelessly on the front lines,” Engelbert said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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