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NBA postpones start of Basketball Africa League due to coronavirus concerns

Details and information are projected on a screen during the announcement of the The NBA-backed Basketball Africa League (BAL) at the Museum of Black Civilisations in Dakar, on July 30 2019.


The National Basketball League has postponed the start of the Basketball Africa League’s inaugural season due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, BAL president Amadou Gallo Fall said in a statement Tuesday.

Fall said the decision comes on the recommendation of the Senegalese government. BAL was scheduled to tipoff on March 13 in Dakar, Senegal.

“I am disappointed we are not able to tipoff this historic league as scheduled but look forward to the highly-anticipated launch of the BAL at a later date,” Fall said in the statement.

BAL revealed its 12 teams that will participate in the inaugural season during the 2020 Africa Luncheon during the NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago last month.

BAL will be played in seven African cities – Cairo, Dakar, Lagos, Luanda, Monastir and Salé. The playoffs and title game will be played in Kigali, Rwanda.

On Tuesday, CNBC obtained a copy of a memo the NBA sent to front offices, which details the cause of the virus, how it can spread, and offers players preventive measures to decrease the risk of becoming infected with coronavirus. The memo also says players should “avoid taking items (pens, markers, balls, jerseys, etc.) from fans to sign autographs,” which is a daily routine for NBA players during pregame warmups.

Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. climbed to nine Tuesday as Washington state confirmed new fatalities on Tuesday. There are now at least 108 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.