For most of this week, I’ve focused my efforts to writing about the coronavirus’ impact on the Washington Wizards. The WNBA season doesn’t start until mid-May, but it’s going to affect the Washington Mystics as well.
Even if the disease is kept under relative control by May, it’s important for us to mention what the bad-to-worse case scenarios can be for the Mystics this season, short of players and/or coaches contracting the virus itself.
I don’t take any of these situations lightly when writing about a bad situation like this. However, in this era where players travel long distances regularly, as well as the spread of the virus continuing worldwide, it’s also worth discussing these scenarios, so we aren’t as surprised.
So here are three bad scenarios that could happen between now and May.
Emma Meesseman decides to skip the 2020 WNBA season, because of the coronavirus in the USA. Or because she may not be allowed to enter the country at all.
The new WNBA CBA was considered to be a win for players and women’s sports fans. But for Emma Meesseman, she decided to sign a one-year contract, because she wanted to “take stock” of her options after the Tokyo Olympics this year, assuming they go forward.
Before now, I believed that Meesseman would play most of the season minus a few games because of the Olympics. However, with coronavirus cases going up in the United States, she could decide not to play in the WNBA.
It is also possible that Meesseman may not be able to enter the country altogether.
On Wednesday night, U.S. president Donald Trump announced restrictions on all-nonessential travel from Europe minus the United Kingdom, which is not part of the European Union for 30 days, starting on midnight, Friday, Mar. 13. It’s difficult to say whether Meesseman working for the WNBA is considered “essential travel,” but it can be enough to convince Meesseman NOT to play in America regardless of the circumstances.
BREAKING: Pres. Trump announces suspension of "all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight.— ABC News (@ABC) March 12, 2020
"The restrictions will "not apply to the United Kingdom," Trump added. https://t.co/XJYPTISbjM pic.twitter.com/mRMiavkUIh
Meesseman is currently playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia where there are at least 28 people confirmed to have coronavirus. Recent cases have generally come from people who traveled to Italy, the country with the most cases outside of China, but Meesseman doesn’t just play games in Russia. In EuroLeague Women, she may have to travel to the Schengen Zone as well though some continental games have been cancelled in recent weeks, even if it doesn’t mean that she specifically goes to Belgium.
Myisha Hines-Allen may not be able to return to the United States from Korea, at least immediately.
I checked Hines-Allen’s social media accounts on Wednesday where it appears that she is still playing in Korea along with new-Mystics signee Lee Seul Kang. But here’s a snapshot from Hines-Allen’s Instagram account.
So, Myisha Hines-Allen is still in Incheon, . I'll write about this a bit more tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/oxv34rNp9q— Albert Lee (@aleeinthedmv) March 12, 2020
It’s unclear whether Kang has a realistic chance to make the opening day roster this summer, but we do know that Hines-Allen has played two years in Washington and will probably make the team again in 2020.
Hines-Allen currently plays for Bucheon KEB Hana Bank, located a bit west of Seoul and in the outskirts of Incheon, where Korea’s main international airport is. Fortunately, it’s not near Daegu in the southeastern part of the country where most of the initial cases originated from.
That said, travelers coming to the USA from Korea have faced quarantines, including University of Connecticut students who traveled from there last week. Assuming that Hines-Allen isn’t able to leave Korea until the spring, it is also possible that she may not be able to enter the United States without delays herself.
Mystics games are played in front of empty crowds at ESA, or perhaps not at all.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment owns Capital One Arena, where the Washington Wizards and Capitals play. The Mystics play at Entertainment and Sports Arena in Congress Heights, which is controlled by DC Events and the DC government.
On Wednesday, Events DC announced that all events at Entertainment and Sports Arena and the Washington Convention Center among other venues it controls, will be cancelled through March 31. The WNBA season won’t start until mid-May, but it’s possible that DC Events’ cancellation goes beyond then.
Let’s say Events DC cancels events through June or longer. That would force the Mystics to play in front of empty crowds this season. And that’s if the WNBA decides the season should move forward.
Again, it’s really, really difficult to predict how things will look like in mid-May when the WNBA season starts. However, given the significance of the situation worldwide, nothing is impossible.