Several WNBA players currently competing in Russia are planning to leave the country as a precaution after the invasion of Ukraine, several agents told ESPN on Sunday.
The majority of WNBA players compete abroad in the winter months, with many top league players in Russia. Usually some players are there until late April or early May. The 2022 WNBA season begins May 6.
The agents requested that their customers located in Russia not be identified at this point for safety reasons.
Longtime agent Mike Kond explained to ESPN that he had experience of needing evacuations from abroad, which came when he was working with the US government during the Gulf War in the early 1990s. Kaund put out a document explaining the current situation of his clients, who also shared it with other players.
“For me, it’s past my ‘contemplation’ period of leaving,” Conde told ESPN on Sunday. “I’ve been on the phone with guys for the last few minutes to work on the flights. It’s really urgent now in terms of a declining number of flights leaving from Russia, and it’s going to be hard to achieve soon. They’ll probably be fine if they stay put, but if It gets worse, it might not be. My idea is, ‘Get them out now if we can.’ And if we can’t, we get them to hole up and stay safe.”
Conde said some players may go to play for other teams in Europe.
Other agents said Sunday that they are working on plans to help customers leave Russia or are in serious discussions about it. One agent said her clients will wait until Monday to make a decision, but she expects they will leave. Most said they did not believe the players were in immediate danger but if the situation worsens, they may or may not be able to leave at this point.
The WNBA and the players’ union released statements earlier this week about ongoing communication with players and agents about the situation.
“A small number of WNBA players who were competing in the off-season in Ukraine are no longer in the country,” the World Basketball Association said Thursday. “The league has also been in contact with WNBA players who are in Russia, either directly or through their agents. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
In response to a question whether the association advises players to leave Russia, a spokesman for the association said that the association did not want to expand its statement further.
The union said it is also monitoring the situation.
“We have been in constant contact with our members and their representatives for several weeks, and will continue to keep abreast of current events,” the union said in a statement on Thursday. “We are the year-round federation of the 144, and their safety is the paramount concern.
“We have exchanged information and advice from reliable news sources and urged them to develop a plan that includes communication with embassies/consulates and the US Department of State’s SMART Traveler Program.”
The The US Embassy in Moscow has sent a security alert On Sunday he said, “An increasing number of airlines are canceling flights to and from Russia, and many countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines. US citizens should consider leaving Russia immediately via the commercial options that remain.”
follow it January 23 Consultant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which warned Americans against travel to Russia due to “the potential for harassment against US citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist US citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and arbitrary enforcement of local law” .
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