A brief notice published yesterday on the official microblog of China Central Television (CCTV) said Zhao had been working very hard during rehearsals, which exhausted him and forced him to drop out.
Zhao had been preparing a follow-up sketch entitled "Blind Date II" for the upcoming gala. His spokesman said he will not miss the next year.
Zhao Benshan first appeared in the CCTV New Year's Gala in 1990 and became a regular performer at the annual event except 1994, thus he has become a household name for Chinese people on Chinese New Year Eve.
He also has created dozens of sketches, and has directed and starred in several series and films which have proved to be hugely popular with Chinese audiences.