No rest for Yao Ming as China basketball resumes after virus break


Shanghai (AFP)

Former NBA star Yao Ming warned more challenges lie ahead after the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) said it will resume the season on June 20 following a five-month shutdown because of the coronavirus.

The CBA is the first major sports league to return to action in China after infections dropped markedly in the country where the virus emerged late last year.

However, Xinhua news agency cited CBA president Yao as saying: "I really don't feel relieved."

That is because hard work remains if the season is to be completed safely and successfully, the 39-year-old former Houston Rockets star said.

The 20 teams in the league will be put in two groups, based in the cities of Qingdao or Dongguan, the CBA said during the season restart announcement on Thursday.

Matches will be played behind closed doors, in line with sports across the world returning during the pandemic.

Players, staff and officials will have to adhere to strict rules to stop the spread of infections, such as frequent temperature checks and tests for the virus.

"We are aware of the anti-virus measures, and again, we have to be down to earth," Yao said, adding that "we are trying our best to balance all the aspects".

"Many people have done lots of work to make this happen," Yao added of the league's resumption, having been indefinitely put on hold on February 1.

"Our job at the moment is to carry out our plan, which will require everyone's effort."