The National Basketball League has postponed the scheduled start of the inaugural Basketball Africa League in Senegal based on the recommendation of its government.
Amadou Gallo-Fall, BAL president, said in a statement Tuesday:
"Following the recommendation of the Senegalese government regarding the escalating health concerns related to the coronavirus, the BAL’s inaugural season will be postponed. I am disappointed we are not able to tip-off this historic league as scheduled but look forward to the highly-anticipated launch of the BAL at a later date.”
The first case of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa was flagged in Nigeria on the 25th of February after an Italian citizen flew into the commercial city from Milan.
Egypt, Senegal, Morocco and Nigeria have all confirmed cases of coronavirus, and all four countries have a team playing in the BAL this season. Furthermore, games have also been scheduled in Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria, Angola and Tunisia with Rwanda hosting the playoffs and finals.
A memo has also been sent from the NBA to front offices detailing the cause of the virus, how it can spread, and several preventative measures players can take to decrease the risk of infection. The advice also warns the athletes against taking items such as pens, balls, and jerseys, from fans at games to sign, which is a regular tradition at matches.
The BAL recently confirmed its 12 competing teams for the upcoming league at the NBA 2020 All-Star weekend and has received heavy support from fans and athletes worldwide. It is viewed as a chance for Africa to gain the long-overdue recognition for home-grown athletic talent and even hopes to provide stable careers to players who want to remain on the continent to play.
Despite yesterday's disappointing news, anticipation and excitement remain high for the BAL's eventual tip-off.
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