Following an extended coronavirus-caused hiatus, the Chinese Basketball Association has restarted its season in front of some stuffed animals and a giant screen of online viewers.
After last playing way back in January, the CBA games resumed on June 20 with the league’s 20 teams being divided into two divisions and playing in two separate arenas — one in Qingdao and the other in Dongguan.
Over the next two weeks, the teams will play a total of 78 games to finish out the regular season before quickly moving on to the playoffs where the first two rounds will be single-elimination and the final two will be best-of-threes.
The stadiums have been closed to fans. In their place, various stuffed animals have been given front-row seats while other chairs have been covered with jerseys — and not just of CBA teams but also, for some reason, quite a few MLB jerseys along with some international football clubs.
In the middle of the sideline, a giant screen has been put up showing people watching the game from the comfort of their own homes.
Here are some more images showing off what’s going on in the background of these games.
Apart from playing in games, players are to remain quarantined inside their hotels in Qingdao and Dongguan and must have their temperature checked twice daily. To leave otherwise, they must obtain special permission and use specially assigned vehicles.
The arenas themselves have been split into different sections to separate players and team personnel from media members and venue staff. Journalists themselves also must remain quarantined if they want to cover the games.
Meanwhile, the status quo of the league has been shaken up with a number of foreign players unable to return to their teams because of China’s restrictions against entering the country. While most teams are allowed two foreign players who generally dominate the games, some teams have been left without a single foreign player as they struggle to make the playoffs.
The league’s leading scorer this year, Jilin’s Dominique Jones won’t be returning, leaving his team to make up 37.8 points per game.
Other foreign stars did, however, manage to make it back into China before the ban on foreign nationals came into place. Here are highlights of Jeremy Lin in his first game back for Beijing.