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WNBA to play reduced season without fans starting in July

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The WNBA will play a reduced season with no fans allowed at games starting in July due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced Monday. 

The league will play 22 regular-season games starting in late July followed by a traditional playoff format, according to the announcement

The league said it is finalizing a deal with IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., to become home for each of the league’s 12 teams and to serve as the single site for training camp, games and housing, the league said. 

“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,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in the announcement. “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.”

Engelbert said players will receive their full pay and benefits during the 2020 season. 

Tim Pernetti, IMG Events and Media executive vice president, said IMG Academy is “thrilled” to partner with the WNBA. 

“We are truly looking forward to becoming the Official Home of the 2020 WNBA Season and working closely with the league in providing our best-in-class training and competition environment,” Pernetti said in a statement. 

The league also said it will build on its commitment to social justice and support players in launching a “bold social justice platform.” 

The league is making donations from sales of its “Bigger Than Ball” merchandise to the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted. 

“The WNBA opposes racism in all its forms, and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are the latest names in a list of countless others who have been subject to police brutality that stems from the systemic oppression of Black Lives in America, and it is our collective responsibility to use our platforms to enact change,” Engelbert said.

Tags Cathy Engelbert Coronavirus COVID-19 WNBA Women's National Basketball Association

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