The 2020 WNBA playoffs have reached the semifinal stage, and Sunday was supposed to feature a doubleheader of Game 1s. Yet while the matchup between the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun went off without a hitch, the game between the Seattle Storm and Minnesota Lynx was postponed due to inconclusive COVID-19 tests.
Thankfully, it appears those tests were false positives. In a press release Tuesday, the league announced that all the players involved have since tested negative multiple times, and have been cleared to play. The league has since moved Game 1 to Tuesday night.
"The health and safety of all players and staff continues to be our top priority. After comprehensive consultation with health and safety specialists following the additional testing of Seattle's players and staff as well as the implementation of contact tracing, we feel confident moving forward with the Storm and Lynx taking the court for Game 1 of their Semifinals series. We are closely monitoring the situation and are coordinating with medical specialists," said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
The Lynx were already at the arena preparing for the game on Sunday when the decision was made, while the Storm were on the bus on the way to the gym.
"This is the hardest part of COVID-19 of putting on live sports," Engelbert said during a TV interview after the decision to postpone the game. "Every day you're reset to zero. Keeping the bubble safe and making sure there's no community spread. The purpose of testing program and protocols is to pull anyone out before they are infectious.
"We want to make sure we have all the data and testing if someone is affected with COVID," Engelbert added. "We can isolate them and take care of their safety. Hopefully we'll get good data over the next 24 to 48 hours. Hopefully get back on the court for Game 1 on Tuesday. We will test them tonight and have additional testing on those players that had inconclusive results."
Connecticut coach Curt Miller said Engelbert informed the Sun of the decision to postpone the other game after their Game 1 win over the Aces. "None of us knew what was going on of course," Miller said. "Cathy [Engelbert] came and spoke to our teams. We've done a great job of keeping COVID out of our bubble. I hope these are false positives. The thing that is concerning is the multiple positives."
The WNBA set up its bubble on the campus of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and has had zero positive cases since arriving back in July. There have, however, been a few instances of players receiving inconclusive results, or false positives, which resulted in missed games and extra quarantine time. In all of those cases, however, the players were retested and cleared without any additional issues. Thankfully, it seems like that was once again the case.