WNBA postpones season due to coronavirus

Bowing to the inevitability of the calendar

For weeks now, it’s been clear that the WNBA’s scheduled season stood in the crosshairs of the developing national response to the coronavirus epidemic.

But Friday morning, the league announced that reality, pushing back both the start of training camp and the May 15 season opener indefinitely.

“As developments continue to emerge around the COVID-19 pandemic, including the extension of the social distancing guidelines in the United States through April 30, the WNBA will postpone the start of its training camps and tip of the regular season originally scheduled for May 15,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “While the league continues to 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.

“In the meantime, the league and our teams remain focused on preparing for the upcoming virtual WNBA Draft 2020 presented by State Farm on April 17.  Top prospects will take part remotely live on ESPN with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET.  This virtual draft allows players who have worked so hard to have their dreams realized when they hear their names called and provides teams the opportunity to build their rosters in anticipation of the day that we are able to move forward with our season.

“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.”

Washington Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault echoed Engelbert’s sentiments.

“At the direction of the WNBA and in accordance with public health guidelines, the start of the 2020 Mystics season will be postponed to maintain the safety of our fans, players and staff,” Thibault said. “We will get through this difficult time together and look forward to seeing our fans and defending our championship as soon as safely possible.  In the meantime, we will continue to find other ways to stay connected as we encourage everyone to stay home and be safe.”

This was echoed by the Minnesota Lynx, who issued a statement attributable to the team. (For your own amusement, picture Prowl saying it.)

“The Lynx fully support the WNBA’s decision today to postpone the start of the upcoming WNBA season. The safety of our fans, players and staff is of the utmost importance. Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by the pandemic and we thank those who are working tirelessly to fight the coronavirus.

“We look forward to welcoming the newest additions to the Lynx following the WNBA Draft 2020 presented by State Farm on April 17th at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN. Minnesota has the sixth and 16th overall selection in this year’s draft.”

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