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Fans allowed for Covid-delayed Super League season

2022-05-29 HKT 13:04
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  • Some fans will be allowed to attend when the battle for the Chinese Super League trophy kicks off on Friday. Photo: AFP
    Some fans will be allowed to attend when the battle for the Chinese Super League trophy kicks off on Friday. Photo: AFP
Fans will be allowed in when the coronavirus-delayed Chinese Super League season kicks off on Friday despite the country's strict Covid controls, state media reported.

The season will finally see action three months later than usual in three neutral cities, as China sticks to a strict zero-Covid strategy that has meant tens of millions of people have been locked down in cities such as business hub Shanghai.

Analysts had expected the Chinese Super League (CSL) season to begin in empty stadiums, but organisers said spectators will be allowed at the opening match when defending champions Shandong Taishan play Zhejiang in the southern city of Haikou on June 3.

"We hope to bring more confidence to the sports industry through our efforts," Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday citing CSL chairman Liu Jun.

"During such special circumstances, the opening of the CSL is of great significance to the whole football industry."

Liu said local authorities in the three host cities, the other two are Dalian on China's east coast and Meizhou in the south – have "made great efforts" to ensure that the games are not interrupted by virus outbreaks.

Players and staff from the CSL clubs were quarantined for three weeks in their hotels before being allowed to enter each city's virus-secure bubble, Chinese media reported.

"Organisers also expect that the local governments of the three host cities will open up important matches to fans," Xinhua said, without saying how many fans would be allowed.

The CSL kicks off with 18 clubs this season, but without Chongqing Liangjiang who this month folded because of massive debt exacerbated by the pandemic. (AFP)