While the NBA’s hiatus due to COVID-19 is going to go on for the foreseeable future, China’s top basketball league looked ready to start things back up in the coming weeks. According to a new report by Brian Windhorst of ESPN, though, that restart has to be pushed back a little bit.
As Windhorst explained, the league’s plan was to play games without fans in attendance in April, something that other sporting leagues around the world viewed as a potential “trial balloon.” However, due to an apparent issue with China’s government and some issues that popped up in Japan and South Korea, the league is now looking to get back underway in May.
The league had hoped to begin April 15, following about 11 weeks of being shut down, but now won’t attempt resuming until May after failing to get government approval, according to reports from China.
The delay of the Olympics contributed to the decision, but Chinese officials were also affected by abandoned restarts in basketball leagues in Japan and South Korea over continued concern about the virus in recent days, sources told ESPN.
It’s a tough development for basketball fans, of course, but it’s also an unfortunate turn of events for the players who had to return to China from abroad. As Windhorst reported, some of the Americans in the league aren’t happy that the league — which usually ends in March — is now slated to end as late as August with no extra pay coming their way. It’s one of the inherent issues that every league will have to deal with: If a season is pushed back months, and contracts run through a specific date, that’ll have to be remedied.
Of course, as an American, it is very easy to look at all of this and get skeptical of the NBA coming back any time soon — the CBA’s delay will last about four months, per Windhorst. If the NBA followed a similar trajectory, which might not be a huge stretch since the World Health Organization identified the U.S. as potentially the world’s next COVID-19 epicenter on Wednesday, that would mean we would not get games again until July. Hopefully this doesn’t end up happening, and it is safe enough that we get something closer to the timeline Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban laid out.