The launch of the inaugural Basketball Africa League has been postponed due to fears over the new-coronavirus outbreak, the NBA said in a statement on Tuesday.

The NBA-backed 12-team league had been due to tip off on March 13 in Dakar, Senegal but has now been put on hold due to health concerns.

The announcement came a day after Senegal confirmed its first case of COVID-19, only the second infection in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Basketball Africa League President Amadou Gallo Fall confirmed the postponement in a statement released by the NBA.

“Following the recommendation of the Senegalese government regarding the escalating health concerns related to the coronavirus, the BAL’s inaugural season will be postponed,” Fall said.

“I am disappointed we are not able to tip-off this historic league as scheduled but look forward to the highly-anticipated launch of the BAL at a later date.”

Twelve club teams from across Africa had been due to participate in the league, which is backed by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the NBA.

It is the first time the NBA has helped organize a league outside North America.

AFP