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WNBA postpones start of regular season due to coronavirus pandemic

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks at a news

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks at a news conference in Washington on Sept. 29, 2019. Credit: AP/Patrick Semansky

The WNBA will postpone the start of its regular season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced on Friday morning.

The league was scheduled to open training camps on April 26 and begin the regular season on May 15.

“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.”

Los Angeles Sparks guard Sydney Wiese became the first known WNBA player to test positive for the coronavirus. The Sparks said in a statement last week that Wiese tested positive after returning home from playing overseas in Spain.

The Sparks said in a statement Friday that all teams are in communication with the league.

The league will hold a virtual draft on April 17, which will be televised on ESPN. Players selected will take part in the draft remotely.

“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,” Engelbert said.

When the WNBA does resume play, the Liberty are expected to have Oregon point guard Sabrina Ionescu in training camp. The Liberty have the top pick in the draft and Ionescu is widely viewed as the top player available. The Liberty are also moving into Barclays Center this season to play home games.

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