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Chinese authorities maintain spectator ban for major sports leagues

Chinese authorities maintain spectator ban for major sports leagues
March 31, 2020

China’s National Sports Bureau has continued its ban on events that will draw large crowds until further notice to curb a second wave of Coronavirus infections.

While activities in some Chinese regions are returning to normal with a reported fall in infections, being brought in from overseas.

The suspension means that the Chinese Basketball Association's professional men's basketball league and football’s Chinese Super League (CSL) are unlikely to play until the second half of April.

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) competition has been suspended since 24th January, while the start of the 2020 CSL season, scheduled for 22nd February, was postponed.

Explaining the continued ban, a statement from China's National Sports Bureau advised “in order to fulfil our duty to stop the virus being imported at the border and prevent the rebound in domestic infections, and to reduce unnecessary people flow and its consequent threat to virus prevention, from now until further notice major sporting events which gather crowds, such as marathons, will not resume.

“In the meantime, please continue to direct the public to maintain a healthy lifestyle and organise online sporting activities. The National Sports Bureau will update according to the developing virus situation.”

The Associated Press news agency reported that the CBA is considering a proposal to bring all 20 teams to one or two cities, potentially Dongguan or Qingdao, to play games behind closed doors. Teams currently have 16 regular-season games left to play.

Major sporting events due to have been held in China during the first half of the year have been cancelled or postponed since the Coronavirus outbreak began being reported on in January, including the World Indoor Athletic Championships and the Shanghia F1 Grand Prix.

The Indoor Athletic Championships, which was due to be held in Nanjing in March, has been postponed until next year while the F1 race is unlikely to be held this year.

Image: Shanghai's Hongkou Football Stadium.

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