Elena Delle Donne, the reigning WNBA MVP and a star on the defending champion Washington Mystics, is weighing whether she will play this season after a panel of doctors denied her request to opt out for medical reasons. The news was first reported by ESPN.
Delle Donne, 30, has battled Lyme disease for years. She said in a statement Monday her personal physician has advised her that she’s at “high risk” for contracting and having complications from Covid-19.
A panel of doctors, however, advised that she is not high risk and should be permitted to play, Delle Donne said. The panel of independent doctors was approved by the league and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA).
“I appreciate that the league has worked incredibly hard to provide as safe an environment as possible for us to play basketball. I know it’s been a huge effort. I love my team, and we had an unbelievable season last year, and I want to play!” Delle Donne said. “But the question is whether or not the WNBA bubble is safe for me.”
She continued: “I realize a lot of people are thinking about the same thing when they go to work every day, and that I’m luckier than many because I have options. My heart has gone out to everyone who has had to choose between their health and having an income, and of course to anyone who has lost their job, their home, and anyone they love in this pandemic.
“I’m thinking things over, talking to my doctor and my wife, and look forward to sharing what I ultimately plan to do very soon.”
The WNBA, when reached by CNN on Monday, declined to comment, citing privacy concerns on health matters.
“As with all of our players, we have and will support Elena throughout this process,” Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault said in a statement Monday. “The health and well-being of our players is of the utmost importance.”
The 2020 WNBA season is scheduled to start later this month at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.