The BBC reports that the NBA’s inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) has been postponed due to health concerns around the coronavirus outbreak.
No new dates have been given yet for the BAL which was supposed to kick off in the Senegalese capital of Dakar on March 13th.
The BAL’s inaugural season, which will comprise 40 games over a period of 3 months, is set to take place in a host of major African cities including Dakar, Kigali, Cairo, Lagos, Rabat, Luanda, and several others.
President of the BAL, Amadou Gallo Fall, commented on the postponement in a press release saying, “Following the recommendation of the Senegalese government regarding the escalating health concerns related to the coronavirus, the BAL’s inaugural season will be postponed.” He went on to express disappointment at the postponement but said that the much-anticipated season would begin at a later date.
Last year, the NBA announced that it would be launching the BAL, its first professional league outside of North America. The move comes at a time when African talent is beginning to dominate basketball both on and off the court.
Speaking in an interview, Vice President & Head of Strategy and Operations for the BAL, John Manyo-Plange, spoke about the grand vision for the league saying:
“We feel that in the next five years, the BAL is going to be the number two basketball league globally. We have high aspirations for what this is going to become. As the average fan of the sport, when you experience basketball on the continent currently, and then the NBA and the BAL come in town, and then you experience what we put on, and all the activities around it, there’s going to be a marked difference between the two. If we don’t achieve that, then we’ve done something wrong. The talent is here. All the raw materials are here. We now have to package it properly.”
As it stands, there are reportedly 94 000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world with an estimated death toll of just over 3000 people. The virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
African countries that have confirmed cases of the virus include Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, and Senegal.