As the new WNBA season begins, several players have chosen to sit the season out either due to COVID-19 or to pursue social justice reform. But, with the decision not to play comes the loss of a season's salary.

NBA superstar Kyrie Irving has decided to step up for these players by committing $1.5 million to ease their financial burdens. The Brooklyn Nets guard launched the KAI Empowerment Initiative on Monday to disburse the funds, Sports Illustrated reported.

According to a statement on the KAI Empowerment Initiative website, the program is designed to provide financial support for WNBA players "who are active but will not play in the 2020 WNBA season due to personal, professional, health, and/or safety-related reasons."

"The KAI Empowerment Initiative is fully funded by Kyrie Irving who has committed $1.5 million to these efforts. In addition, the program will give all WNBA players access to a comprehensive financial literacy program provided by UBS," the website states. 

WNBA players Natasha Cloud and Renee Montgomery are among the athletes who have opted to focus on social justice reform instead of playing this season. According to NBC Sports, some other players who chose to skip the season for health or social justice reasons are Rebecca Allen and Asia Durr of the New York Liberty, Kristi Toliver and Chiney Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks, Jessica Breland of the Phoenix Mercury, Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream and Liz Cambage of the Las Vegas Aces. 

The players have to meet the requirements of Irving's program to receive funds. The initiative asks players to clearly explain their reason for sitting out. Athletes who opt to skip games for medical reasons must prove that their concern is related to the pandemic.

"Whether a person decided to fight for social justice, play basketball, focus on physical or mental health, or simply connect with their families, this initiative can hopefully support their priorities and decisions," Irving said in a statement.

The All-Star guard recently expressed his own concerns about playing basketball amid a pandemic. According to NBA insider Chris Haynes, Irving held a conference call with other NBA players and said he is against going to Orlando, where the league will host the rest of the season.