China allows CSL football fans back into stadiums as normality gradually restored

By Wang Qi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/4 15:14:36

Guangzhou Evergrande's Wei Shihao (No.7) scores against Shanghai Shenhua in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Photo: IC

China's top football league is ready to welcome fans back into stadiums in Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province, as the region's COVID-19 resurgence in late July has been completely contained. Observers say the resumption of team sports symbolizes normality has been restored in terms of both the economy and people's everyday lives in China.

The highly-anticipated derby clash between Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao and Guangzhou R&F will become the first match opened to the public in Dalian since the 2020-21 Chinese Super League (CSL) season kicked off on June 25 following a 154-day postponement. 1,500 football fans are expected to attend the match.

The year's "special" CSL is being held in two divisions, one in Dalian, and the other in East China's Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, where limited number of fans have been allowed into the city's stadiums since August 22. 

Gao Hongbo, former manager of the Chinese national football team and vice head of the Chinese Football Association, said during a press briefing on Thursday that the resumption of the CSL, as China's biggest sports league, shows the comprehensive resumption of the sports industry in China, and reflects that the economy and people's lives are returning back to normal.

Gao expressed gratitude to those local medical workers who devoted themselves in preventing the spread of virus and saved lives, noting that without their efforts and sacrifice, the CSL league could not operate safely in Dalian.

Since the resurgence of COVID-19 in Dalian on July 22, a total of 92 COVID-19 cases and 26 silent carriers were confirmed. The last COVID-19 patient in the city was discharged on August 28, with none of the reported patients dying, and none of the medical workers becoming infected.

Wen Dianbin, the head of the Dalian sports authority, told media on Thursday that according to the CSL's current plan, each game of the CSL will allow up to 2,000 people. The 1,500 audience members for Friday's Guangzhou derby will be led by the clubs and official fan associations, and allowed to enter the stadium for free.  

Global Times learned that all audience members must register their health status on the ticket-booking platform Damai, including producing their negative nucleic acid test results taken within the last seven days, health QR code and travel history during the last 14 days. Fans will be eligible for a ticket and seat selection after their qualification is confirmed. Meanwhile, the seating capacity of each stand of the stadium will not exceed 17 percent, while audience members will have to sit two seats apart in each row. 

Wen said comprehensive anti-epidemic measures will be taken to ensure people's safety, including temperature measuring, social distancing, and mandatory mask wearing during the game. The stadium will also offer hand sanitizer, mask vending machines and disinfection before and after the match in public areas. 

Before attendance was granted in China's football league, the Chinese Basketball Association resumed attendance in July in limited numbers for the playoff matches in the league's "bubble" at Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province. 

Since the Chinese General Administration of Sports announced that sports departments and institutions may resume sports events in an orderly manner, sports such as badminton, marathon running, and e-sports have all resumed in most parts of China. 

World-renowned sports leagues like the NBA and Premier League have not yet allowed their fans back into stadiums due to their countries' comparatively worse epidemic situation.  


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