UNCASVILLE, CONNECTICUT - OCTOBER 08: Jasmine Thomas #5 of Connecticut Sun drives against Elena Delle Donne #11 of Washington Mystics during Game Four of the 2019 WNBA Finals between the Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena on October 08, 2019 in Uncasville, Connecticut. The Sun defeat the Mystics 90-86.
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The WNBA has officially postponed the start of its 2020 season. Their draft will virtually go on as planned on April 17.

The WNBA officially postponed the start of its 2020 season on Friday morning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Proceedings were originally set to open with a trio of games on May 15.

League commissioner Cathy Engelbert addressed the delay in a statement.

“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,” Engelbert said. “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.”

“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.”

The local New York Liberty were set to open training camp on April 28. Their first game was scheduled for May 16 against the Connecticut Sun and their home opener at Barclays Center was slated for May 17, a showdown with the Los Angeles Sparks.

Engelbert stated the league’s draft will proceed as scheduled on April 17 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). It was announced last week that the draft would move to a virtual presentation. The Liberty are holders of the top overall pick.

“The league and our teams remain focused on preparing for the upcoming virtual WNBA Draft 2020 presented by State Farm on April 17,” Engelbert said. “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.”

WNBA teams were set to play a league-record 36 games this season, with the first half featuring an in-season competition known as the Commissioner’s Cup. Players were also expected to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Those international proceedings have since been pushed back to 2021.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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