The Chinese government has issued an order restricting the return of team sports to competition as the spread of the coronavirus slows in the country, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. He adds that the decision is a "heavy blow" for professional basketball there and other leagues around the world were closely monitoring China's decision-making.
No timetable was shared for the restriction to be lifted, according to ESPN
The main concern would be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 that could pass on the disease to others who are more at-risk.
On March 11 the Chinese Basketball Association had informed American players to plan on returning to China for a possible return to competition in early April. Players had been sent home over the Lunar New Year Holiday in late January. Approximately 40 American players are currently under contract with the CBA including Jeremy Lin and Lance Stephenson.
Players will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine in China upon their return.
ESPN reports the CBA was planning to send its 20 teams to two cities and play against each other in empty arenas.
The coronavirus started in Wuhan, China, and quickly spread throughout the city of 11 million people and then throughout the mainland country. Mainland China has more than 83,059 cases with 3,305 deaths but numbers have come under scrutiny as China announced more than 1,500 cases that had not been made to the public until Tuesday. China is also among the Asian countries concerned about foreigners coming in and causing a second wave of infections.
There are more than 796,000 confirmed cases of the virus globally across at least 171 countries.