China to stop hosting international sports events in 2020

A general view of the grid before the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 14, 2019 (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

The Chinese government has said the country will not be hosting most of its planned international sports events this year, putting in doubt events including the Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai and WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

The move was announced in the plan for the resumption of sport in the country published by the General Administration of Sport on Thursday. It said a small number of events would be allowed to go ahead, including Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics test events “and other important events”. It added, “in principle, no other international sports events will be held this year”.

The GAS advice said that the hosting plans for the 14th Chinese National Winter Games and the 6th Asian Beach Games, scheduled for Sanya in Hainan province in November, should be “carefully adjusted”.

International players. coaches and referees in Chinese sports leagues including football’s Chinese Super League have been encouraged not to return to the country for the time being.

Last month, the chief of Shanghai’s Sports Bureau said Formula One was considering running two races in the city this year. This week, Italian pay-television broadcaster Sky appeared to accidentally unveil a plan to run the Shanghai Grand Prix on November 8.

The Women’s Tennis Association has released a provisional calendar for the rest of this year, with six tournaments in China, including the Finals in Shenzhen on November 9-15.

Several golf tournaments look set to be affected, including the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai on October 29-November 1, the Buick LPGA Shanghai on October 15-18, and the Rolex Shanghai Masters on October 11-18. Reuters reported that the LPGA said it is communicating with its partners at IMG, the sports marketing agency, and the China Golf Association to understand the impact of the new restrictions.

Chinese domestic sport has begun to restart, with the CBA basketball league resuming its 2020 season last month, and football’s CSL set to restart later this month. In both leagues, matches are taking place behind closed doors and being played in just two cities designated by each competition.

The GAS also said that domestic league matches could be gradually reopened to spectators, although with very strict rules on who can be admitted. The rules require spectators to test negative for Covid-19 in the 48 hours previous to the event and to isolate themselves. Venues can be opened up to a maximum of 50-per-cent capacity.