Basketball

Yao Ming offers options for restart of Chinese basketball

AP

Yao Ming, the former Houston Rockets star and now president of the Chinese Basketball Association, says the league has three options for resuming the season that has been on hold since Feb. 1 over the coronavirus pandemic.

Yao said the league might play out the full schedule; play a shortened season with some games dropped; or end the regular season and go straight to the playoffs based on teams’ current rankings.

Yao told state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday that he hopes as much as the season can be played as possible, but that public health and fairness were the key considerations. A tournament to restart the season was also being considered if not all scheduled games could be played.

Teams would also be isolated in hotels and fans barred from stadiums, he said.

In formulating a restart plan, the CBA received advice from a unique source, Yao said. Zhong Nanshan, who heads a national virus control team and is married to a former national player, provided “many useful suggestions,” Yao said. “With their help, we are more confident of the CBA’s return.”

As in most countries, professional sports in China has been largely put on hold during the pandemic. The Chinese Football Association said last week it would be mandating a temporary 30-to-50 percent pay cut for all players and hoped to restart competition on a staggered schedule.

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