Basketball Africa League postponed due to concerns about coronavirus

The Basketball Africa League was announced during the Africa Luncheon as part of NBA All Star Weekend in Chicago. Tom O'Connor/NBAE via Getty Images

The first season of the NBA's Basketball Africa League (BAL), which was scheduled to tip off in Dakar, Senegal, on Friday March 13, has been postponed due to concerns about the coronavirus, the league announced on Tuesday.

"Following the recommendation of the Senegalese Government regarding the escalating health concerns related to the coronavirus, the BAL's inaugural season will be postponed," league president Amadou Gallo 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."

The BAL, a partnership between the International Basketball Federation and the NBA, features 12 club teams from across Africa and is a key part of the NBA's effort to expand the North American brand worldwide.

Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, is a new strain of coronavirus that has surged around the globe in recent months. The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory diseases. Flu is caused by a different virus.

There is no vaccine for coronavirus, though researchers are working on one and hope to begin testing soon. Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are most at risk.

The coronavirus spreads mainly through coughs and sneezes, though it also can be transferred from surfaces. The best way to prevent infection is by frequent hand-washing, cleaning surfaces with regular household sprays and wipes, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

There are almost 91,000 cases of coronavirus globally, of which more than 80,000 are in China.

China's death toll has topped 2,900, with more than 160 fatalities elsewhere.