While leagues inch closer to their returns, more athletes are choosing to not take part, citing both the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country as well as the continued racial equality movement.
At the forefront of those looking to sit out is Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, who earlier this month said he wouldn’t take part in the NBA’s resumption in Orlando. There is growing hesitation around the league’s restart as coronavirus cases grow across Florida. NBA players have until today to inform their teams of their decisions, and teams have until July 1 to finalize their rosters – if a substitute player is signed, the original player can not rejoin the team this season.
Several WNBA players have officially announced they’ll skip the season, which will also be played in Florida. While the Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones and Washington Mystics’ LaToya Sanders cited coronavirus and health concerns, Mystics guard Natasha Cloud joined Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery in skipping the season to concentrate on social justice issues. In a statement, Cloud said, “I have a responsibility to myself, to my community and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball.”
With the NWSL’s Challenge Cup slated to start this weekend, several high-profile players have bowed out, including U.S. Women’s National Team players Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, and Christen Press. Heath and Press specifically cited COVID-19 uncertainty. The entire Orlando Pride team was pulled out of the tournament after several players and staff members tested positive for the virus.