(Reuters) – The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) will begin its 2020 season in late July amid the COVID-19 outbreak with all games to be played without fans at a single site in Florida, the league said on Monday.
The WNBA said in a statement the IMG Academy in Bradenton will be the home for each of the league’s 12 teams and serve as a single site for training camp, games and housing.
Teams will play a 22-game regular season games instead of the originally-scheduled 36 games, followed by a traditional playoff format of single-elimination games for the first two rounds and best-of-five series for the semis and finals.
Despite the shortened regular season, all players will receive their full salary and benefits during the campaign.
The WNBA said its priority remains the health and safety of players and staff, and that it is working with medical experts and government officials on a set of guidelines to ensure appropriate medical protocols are in place.
“We will continue to consult with medical experts and public health officials as well as players, team owners and other stakeholders as we move forward with our execution plan,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
“And, despite the disruption caused by the global pandemic to our 2020 season, the WNBA and its Board of Governors believe strongly in supporting and valuing the elite women athletes who play in the WNBA and therefore, players will receive their full pay and benefits during the 2020 season.”
In April the WNBA postponed the start of its 2020 regular season, which was supposed to run from May 15-Sept. 20.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar