Chinese Basketball Association delays season restart due to coronavirus: Could it influence how U.S. sports handle return?

·3 min read

The Chinese Basketball Association will not begin play as expected. The Chinese government issued an order Tuesday to delay the restart of the CBA, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

The league has been shut down since January due to the coronavirus, but has attempted to restart things over the past couple months. The CBA asked American athletes to travel back to the country in March. The date of the league’s restart has been pushed back a few times, but the most recent projections had the CBA starting up again in May.

That Chinese government did not announce a timetable for lifting its restriction, meaning that May timetable is unlikely. Despite the setback, the CBA still intends to restart its season this year.

NBA monitoring CBA situation, despite skepticism around China’s reporting

How China handles the situation with the CBA is being viewed as a “test case” for how American sports leagues might operate once the U.S. is able to proceed, according to Windhorst.

While the United States struggles with flattening its curve, China has alleged a reduction in cases in recent weeks. The Guardian reported that aggressive social distancing, lockdowns, public monitoring of citizens and quarantines could be playing significant roles.

But the number of COVID-19 cases reported by China have come under “increased scrutiny”, with the Wall Street Journal reporting the country has not included asymptomatic cases in its count.

Per the New York Times:

Questions about the accuracy of China’s numbers have circulated since the start of the outbreak there, even as the country has touted its apparent success in bringing it under control. The 1,541 newly announced cases were people who had tested positive but were asymptomatic, according to an official at China’s National Health Commission.

China had not previously included asymptomatic patients in its public tallies of confirmed cases, even though the World Health Organization recommends doing so, and many within China and abroad had expressed fear about the true scale of the epidemic.

Could CBA delay be sign of what’s to come in U.S. sports?

That fact that China — which began its lockdown in January — won’t be comfortable moving forward with sports in May while alleging a flattened curve may not be a good sign for U.S. sports, either.

Some U.S. cities have issued stay at home orders, but others haven’t been as forceful. While social distancing and avoid large groups has been a focus for the U.S., there are still some who don’t feel motivated to comply. The White House’s senior leader on virus response has warned U.S. deaths could range from 100,000 to 200,000.

If China isn’t willing to restart sports while cases are allegedly declining, the U.S. could be in for a lengthy sports absence as it struggles to control the pandemic.

NBA, MLB on hiatus; NFL going on with draft

Both the NBA and Major League Baseball are grappling with how to resume play once the coronavirus threat is lifted. The NBA postponed its season in the middle of the year after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. Fear of spreading the virus led to MLB postponing the start of the 2020 season. Both leagues are trying to figure out a plan for resuming play.

The NFL has operated as normal — at least for now. The league allowed free agency to occur, and is planning to hold its draft in late April. The NFL preseason isn’t set to begin until August, so the league hasn’t issued any postponements or restrictions just yet.

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