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China reportedly issued an order restricting the resumption of team sports on Tuesday just weeks after the Chinese Basketball Association sent a memo announcing plans to resume play in early April.
The General Administration of Sport issued the new order in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic just as pro basketball was expected to return, according to ESPN reported. The motivation behind the ban seems to be driven by fear COVID-19 will spread through those carrying the disease with no symptoms.
The restrictions come just weeks after the CBA issued a memo anticipating that the season would resume as early as April 2 as, at the time, the spread of the virus appeared to be improving within the country.
The March 11 memo, obtained by ESPN, stated that players would be “requested” to comply with the April 2 start date, although it wasn’t immediately clear what would happen to those who decline to.
Among those athletes, were 40 Americans contracted under the league’s 20 teams, including former NBA players Jeremy Lin, Ty Lawson and Lance Stephenson.
The coronavirus originated from Wuhan, China, where it quickly spread throughout the mainland, infecting more than 82,000 people. It has since spread to the U.S. where there have been more than 164,000 cases and 1,370 deaths reported.
The Chinese government has not given a timetable as to when they plan to lift the new restriction, although teams have reportedly reached out to players with hopes that the season will resume soon.