The WNBA announced the regular season will not start on May 15, as previously scheduled, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Start dates for training camps, preseason games and the delayed regular-season openers have not been set.
“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,” league Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a news release.
The April 17 draft will go on as scheduled, but fans, players and team staff won’t be gathered together. Using remote access technology for interviews, the draft will be carried on ESPN starting at 6 p.m.
Minnesota had been scheduled to open in Chicago on May 15 and to host Indiana in its home opener two days later at Target Center.
“The Lynx fully support the WNBA’s decision today to postpone the start of the upcoming WNBA season,” the Lynx announced in a release.“The safety of our fans, players and staff is one 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.”
There is some wiggle room in the schedule this season. The league had been set to go on break for nearly a month to accommodate the Tokyo Olympics, which have been postponed to 2021. The WNBA has franchises in both Seattle and New York City, two major hot spots for the virus.
One of the Seattle Storm’s home courts, the Angel of the Winds Arena, is being used as a virus isolation site. Mandalay Bay, the Las Vegas casino where the Aces play, is shut, as is the Connecticut Sun’s home arena.
The Lynx have the sixth and 16th overall selections in the April 17 draft.
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 because of the virus.
“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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.