Fan-tastic news as CBA nears return of spectators

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, July 17, 2020
Adjust font size:
CBA chairman Yao Ming. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Chinese Basketball Association is stepping up efforts to restore normalcy to the league with proposals to reopen games to spectators as early as the final rounds of the regular season.

According to information released on Thursday by Su Qun, the editor-in-chief of Basketball Pioneer newspaper, the CBA league company has filed a proposal on opening games to a limited number of fans to the municipal government of Qingdao, Shandong province, where the resumed 2019-20 regular season is taking place.

Revealing the plans in a social media post, Su said the league is expecting to welcome back fans to the city's stadiums, which are currently quarantined and only allowing access to essential game staff, as early as next week.

The league has completed multiple rounds of discussions with local government and disease-control authorities regarding detailed regulations on the entry of fans.

If given the go-ahead, the return of CBA spectators will represent a massive boost to the sports sector, which has come under significant financial strain during the COVID-19 pandemic after the outbreak forced all sporting events to be suspended and exercise facilities to be closed in late January.

"If the proposal gets the green light to allow fans back to the stadiums, it will be a milestone in our country's anti-COVID-19 campaign," Su said in the post.

"The plan is of great significance to other sports leagues and businesses, such as the Chinese Super League and the country's movie theaters, to work on their own reopening policies."

Thanks to an exhaustive health and safety plan, devised in consultation with China's top respiratory expert Dr Zhong Nanshan, the CBA resumed its season on June 20 in Qingdao and Dongguan, Guangdong province, at empty arenas and under strict coronavirus prevention measures, including quarantining and repeated testing of players, media and league staff.

It was China's first major pro league to restart amid the pandemic, with soccer's Chinese Super League set to follow when it kicks off its delayed 2020 season on July 25 with behind-closed-doors matches in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, and Dalian, Liaoning province.

To make up for the lack of atmosphere in the empty arenas during games, the CBA has filled the stands with team mascots, jerseys and gifts from fans, while playing videos showing spectators cheering and audio recordings simulating crowd reactions.

Prior to the restart, the league's chief executive, Wang Dawei, had suggested that the CBA might relax its access policy to allow entry for fans once the virus crisis had eased off.

Speaking at a CBA game he attended as a guest of honor on July 3, Dr Zhong had endorsed the return of fans as long as infection-control protocols continued to be strictly observed.

"Is it possible for fans to come into the stadiums to watch live games later this season? I hope to see it happen maybe by the time of the finals," Zhong said in response to a question by CBA chairman Yao Ming at that game.

Meanwhile, a new guideline issued by the General Administration of Sport of China eases rules on staging mass-gathering sporting events.

Should strict anti-infection measures be guaranteed, event organizers are permitted to open stadiums to spectators at half-capacity, the country's top sports governing body stipulated last week.

However, those spectators must have tested negative for the coronavirus within 48 hours of their arrival at the venue, where fans will be seated apart from each other.

If evaluation of the league's proposal goes smoothly, the CBA is expected to launch ticket sales next week for the remainder of the 2019-20 regular season, which will decide the 12 postseason teams after its final round on July 27, according to Su.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from