Travel from Europe has been banned for the next 30 days due to the COVID-19 crisis, putting a massive strain on the WNBA players competing overseas.
Several players have returned home from their respective leagues, including Connecticut Sun stars Jasmine and Alyssa Thomas. Others, however, haven’t had it so lucky.
Some players, like the Los Angeles Sparks’ Sydney Wiese and the Chicago Sky’s Kahleah Copper, were forced to opt out of their contracts in Spain and Portugal, respectively, in order to return home before the ban began. Others, like the Sparks’ Maria Vadeeva and the Sky’s Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot, will remain overseas until the ban eventually is lifted.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert says the league has been “in close communication” with the players overseas, according to USA Today Sports. WNBPA executive director Terri Jackson calls the situation “tough to grapple with,” though.
“We were able to get the word out to players right away,” Jackson said. “I’m very appreciative of the league recognizing the very unique needs of WNBA players in this offseason and recognizing that they have a responsibility to these individuals. We don’t have to be in-season to work on their behalf.”
The WNBA season is slated to begin May 15.