As the spread of the coronavirus continues to sweep around the globe, it’s taking its toll on professional sports leagues.
Both the Japanese B League and the Russian VTB league have canceled the remainder of their seasons.
The Russian VTB United League, with powerhouse European clubs such as CSKA Moscow, decided it will close down and not crown a champion. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando confirmed the news.
OFFICIAL: VTB United League has cancelled the remainder of 2019/20 season.
There will be no champion of 2019/20 season due to absence of sports criteria
— Emiliano Carchia (@Carchia) March 27, 2020
VTB United League CEO Ilona Korstin said in a statement (via the Associated Press) it would be wrong for the VTB to continue the season “in the current situation when borders are closed, teams can’t train at basketball arenas and clubs have to allow foreign players to go home.”
VTB League is based in Russia but also has teams from Poland, Belarus, Estonia, and Kazakhstan. One of the powerhouse teams in the league, Russia’s BC Khimki (which includes former No. 5 pick Thomas Robinson, Jonas Jerebko, and former Virginia star Anthony Gill), was in first place with an 18-1 record when play was suspended.
The cancelation of the Russian season, combined with travel restrictions throughout Europe right now, will make it challenging to complete the Champion’s League season. However, the basketball competition between the top clubs across Europe has yet to throw in the towel and is looking for a way to crown a champion.
Japan’s top league, the B League, tried to restart its season without fans but that proved to be a chaotic mess, now the league has decided to cancel its season.
This time everyone is on the same page according to the league’s leadership. Via the Japan Times:
According to league chairman Masaaki Okawa, the decision was made “unanimously” this time…
“We’ve prioritized the mental and physical health of our players, coaches and club officials,” Okawa said. “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.”
Japan’s league uses a relegation and promotion system between its top tier (B1) and next tier down (B2), but the league is taking the unprecedented step of not relegating anyone after this season. However, the top two teams from B2 — Shinshu and Hiroshima — will get promoted to B1. Which means a lot of adjustment to the Japanese league schedule.