Africa: Basketball Africa League Postponed Over Coronavirus

(File photo).
5 March 2020

The start of the first season of the Basketball Africa League has been postponed because of coronavirus fears.

The first BAL campaign was due to start in the Senegalese capital Dakar on 13 March, and no new date has been given.

The new professional league, a partnership between the International Basketball Federation and the NBA, is set to feature 12 African club teams.

"Following the recommendation of the Senegalese government regarding the escalating health concerns related to the coronavirus, the BAL's inaugural season will be postponed," said BAL president Amadou Gallo Fall.

"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."

Organisers say the safety of fans, players, teams and employees is their priority and that the situation will be monitored prior to announcing another start date in the future.

As of 08:00 GMT on Wednesday, there were two confirmed cases of the disease in Senegal.

Sporting events around the globe have been hit by the coronavirusbut the BAL becomes the first major African event to be postponed because of the outbreak.

Elsewhere, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) has banned handshakes between football players before the start of matches.

The TFF said it is following advice from the Ministry of Health against handshaking as part of measures to stop the spread of the virus in the country.

On Tuesday, photos showed President John Magufuli exchanging a foot greeting with an opposition leader instead of a handshake.

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Tanzania at present, with all suspected cases having tested negative so far.

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