WNBA team's travel nightmare results in forfeit after league ruling

    The Las Vegas Aces became the first WNBA team to forfeit a game, after declining to take the court on Friday.

    Story highlights

    • Las Vegas Aces forfeited against the Mystics on Friday
    • Aces traveled more than 25 hours to Washington, DC

    (CNN)For the first time in WNBA history, there has been a forfeit.

    The Las Vegas Aces, who are fighting for one of the league's final playoff spots, declined to play against the Washington Mystics last week, citing safety concerns after traveling for more than 25 hours.
      The WNBA announced in a one-sentence statement on Tuesday it considered the move a forfeit "because the Aces failed to appear for the game."
      It's the first time a WNBA game has been canceled in the league's 22-year history.
      The result is costly for the Aces, who are now 2.5 games out of the final playoff spot after losing to the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday.
      "Our entire organization has the utmost respect for the very difficult decision our players made, and we stand with them," Las Vegas head coach Bill Laimbeer said in a statement. "We are disappointed with the league's decision, but our focus is now on winning as many games as we can in our drive for our first playoff appearance."
      Washington guard Kristi Toliver, right, signs a basketball along with her other teammates at a long table on the floor after their game got canceled between the Washington Mystics and the Las Vegas Aces in Washington DC on Friday.

      Aces: Playing was 'too great a risk'

      The Aces were scheduled to play at the Mystics on Friday, but flight delays and cancellations turned what is normally a four hour and 30 minute nonstop flight from Las Vegas to Washington into a chaotic trip that lasted more than a day.
      Although the team arrived in Washington few hours before tipoff, the players decided they were in no condition to take the court.
      Unlike NBA teams, which use private charters, WNBA teams are mandated by the league to fly commercial to create an equal playing field.
      On Friday, the Aces released a statement, saying that the decision in not playing "was not made lightly."
      "Given the travel issues we faced over the past two days—25+ hours spent in airports and airplanes, in cramped quarters and having not slept in a bed since Wednesday night—and after consulting with Players Association leadership and medical professionals, we concluded that playing tonight's game would put us at too great a risk for injury," the team said.