Most sports leagues around the world have suspended play amid the coronavirus pandemic, but games are still going on in Turkey’s BSL, leading to fear and exasperation among the players.
A presidential spokesman announced Thursday that all sporting events in the nation will be played with no fans present through the end of April, according to EuroHoops, Turkey is one of the least affected countries in the region, with just six cases of COVID-19 reported through Friday.
Former NBA guard Shane Larkin, now a high-scoring star with star for Istanbul’s Anadolu Efes, sent out a tweet last night questioning why the league continues to operate.
“In no way do I mean any disrespect to any of the decision-makers that are responsible for handling this coronavirus pandemic,” he wrote, “but I do not understand why the Turkish league is continuing to play when every other league in the world is either suspended or canceled. I understand playing games behind closed doors makes things somewhat safer, but that is NOT safe enough.”
Larkin, considered one of the top players in Europe, is under contract for one more season, but he has an opt-out clause allowing him to accept an NBA offer this summer. He reportedly turned down opportunities last year, but the current situation might affect his upcoming decision.
Also Friday, players from the Galatasaray team in the BSL issued a joint statement calling for games to be suspended immediately.
“There have been no precautions taken prior to this for our safety,” tweeted Galatasaray center Zach Auguste. “Expecting us to participate in a game tomorrow during this pandemic is asking us to willingly risk not just our own health and safety but our families who live with us as well.”