Russian, Japanese basketball leagues cancel seasons

Professional basketball leagues in Russia and Japan canceled the remainder of their seasons.

The Japanese B League announced it will call off attempts to resume play. The VTB League, with teams from Russia, Poland, Belarus, Estonia and Kazakhstan, will not resume. South Korean KBL also has been canceled, and the Chinese (CBA) league is postponed with the likelihood of being canceled.

“We’ve prioritized the mental and physical health of our players, coaches and club officials,” league chairman Masaaki Okawa said in a video news conference, per the Japan Times. “The spread of this coronavirus has been beyond our imagination and we’ve emphasized that we cannot afford to expose our players and others who are associated with our league to the danger.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has maintained hope the 2019-20 season could resume in May. But that optimism might be tempered by the failed attempts of leagues in Asia, where the coronavirus peaked weeks ago.

The Euroleague is the biggest and most accomplished international basketball association and hasn’t scrapped plans to play this summer, ESPN reported.

FIBA continues to express hope it will return to the court, too. FIBA released a statement this week.

“We’ve been approached a number of times in the last weeks regarding the status of employment contracts in professional basketball, especially in view of ‘force majeure’ being often invoked as a reason to terminate contracts or not perform under them. We encourage all registered players, coaches, agents and clubs to acknowledge the unique circumstances we are all going through and reach agreements with mutual concessions to the extent possible.”