While the NBA continues its plan to resume and complete the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, the EuroLeague has moved in a different direction. On Monday, the league’s executive board announced its decision to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 EuroLeague and EuroCup seasons because of several logistical issues due to the outbreak of COVID-19. As a result, neither EuroLeague nor EuroCup will crown or recognize a champion for the season. Also being cancelled are the annual Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament and EuroLeague Academy.
EuroLeague is widely considered to be the best professional basketball league in the world outside of the NBA, while EuroCup is the second-best club competition in Europe, behind EuroLeague. The winner of the EuroCup each year qualifies for the following season’s EuroLeague. Both leagues are governed by Euroleague Basketball. Though Euroleague Basketball considered a multitude of possibilities for a potential resumption, it was ultimately decided that it wasn’t in their best interest to resume this season. Concerns about the health of athletes, fans and staff members, as well as uneven conditions for teams in terms of their ability to prepare for play, were cited as major factors in the decision. Additionally, Euroleague Basketball didn’t want to alter the 2020-21 season calendar.
“Without a doubt, this is the most difficult decision we have had to take in our 20-year history,” Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu said in a statement. “Due to reasons beyond our control, we have been forced to cut short the most successful and exciting season in European basketball history. This comes after two and a half months in which all the league’s stakeholders maintained their determination and exhausted every possible avenue in trying to deliver a complete and uniquely special season to our fans, whose passion is the driving force for all our efforts. That is our commitment and our passion every single season, and so falling short due to forces beyond anyone’s control is what saddens us most.
“… Obviously, we had many motivations to resume the 2019-20 season, but in such an exceptional situation, we have to put people’s health first and ahead of any other interest: our players, our coaches, our referees, our clubs, their staff, our league staff, our broadcasters, and all of their families. By doing so, we stay true to our beliefs and what we stand for… In the coming months we only have one mission: to do everything in our power to help our communities come back stronger, and to build the best version of ourselves – on and off the court – for when we can be reunited with the fans. This is not an end, but rather a new beginning.”
Though the current season is cancelled, Euroleague Basketball is clearly optimistic moving forward. They announced that the 2020-21 EuroLeague and EuroCup seasons will start on Oct. 1 and Sept. 30, 2020, respectively, and that training camps will run longer than usual in order to provide the players with an extended opportunity to get into peak physical shape after an extended layoff. It was also announced that the same 18 teams that competed in the 2019-20 EuroLeague season are expected to participate again next season.