Chinese Basketball Association prepares for indefinite hiatus due to coronavirus

Society & Culture

The China Sports Column is a SupChina weekly feature.

As the Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread across China, the Chinese sports world has come to a halt. Keen to avoid large gatherings, the sporting authorities in the country decided to postpone or just cancel larger events.

The biggest casualty has been the suspension of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) from February 1 onwards, as reported by CGTN.

The CBA has yet to set a date for when the league will resume.

The country is also set to host the women’s Olympic Basketball qualifiers in two weeks in Foshan, Guangdong. Sources inside the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) told me that while no decision has been made, they would look to postpone the event if the virus remains a problem. However, they made it clear to me that postponing the event would the last resort, and that moving the event to another city would be preferable. The COC contact told me that they were in contact with FIBA and would continue to work with basketball’s governing body.

Basketball was not the only sporting event affected by the coronavirus.

In the boxing world, the upcoming WBC-WBO world super-lightweight unification title fight between Jose Ramirez and Viktor Postol was due to take place in Haikou, Hainan on February 2, but has now been suspended until further notice.

COO of Top Rank promotions Brad Jacobs told Yahoo News that the fight would be rescheduled, but did not give any concrete information.

“We’re just telling the fighters to give us the weekend to regroup,” Jacobs said. “And we’ll look to go back to [Haikou] later in the year. But this is all new and I’m trying to get Postol a flight to get him out of there now. So it’ll be a couple of days.”

In addition to the title fight, the IOC decided to cancel the upcoming Olympic boxing qualifiers that were due to take place in Wuhan itself from February 3 to 14. The decision mirrors that of the women’s Olympic soccer qualifiers.

Meanwhile, the women’s Olympic soccer qualifiers will be moved from Wuhan to Nanjing. The games will be played over the same dates, from February 3 to 9. UPDATE: They’ve been moved from Nanjing to Sydney.

Also, this via Reuters:

Next month’s Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group I event has been moved out of China over concerns at the ongoing coronavirus outbreak which has so far killed 56 people in the country.

A statement from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said the group event from Feb 4-8 featuring China, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Uzbekistan had been switched from Dongguan to Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) in Kazakhstan.

Naturalized athlete claims two out of China’s three golds at YOG

Gu Ailing in Lausanne

Eileen Gu, or Gǔ Àilíng 谷爱凌, as she is now known in international skiing competition, grabbed two of China’s three golds at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Lausanne. The American-born naturalized Chinese skier claimed gold medals in the Girls’ Big Air and the Halfpipe, while she also narrowly missed out on gold in the slopestyle.

Gu’s exceptional performance at the YOG made up for a lackluster second week to the tournament, as many Chinese medal hopefuls faltered. The 16-year-old, who switched her international allegiances in June, partly credited her phenomenal performance to a “lucky cat” drawn in eyeliner on her hand, and to her coach for wearing a lucky t-shirt.

Gu was signed by Anta Sports as a new sports ambassador and is set to be another star of Beijing 2020. With an American father and Chinese mother, the skier describes herself as a Beijing girl and speaks in a Beijing accent.

China finished the Youth Olympic Games with 10 overall medals. The other gold medal was won by 17-year-old speedskater Yáng Bīnyú 杨滨瑜.

Wang Qiang stuns Serena Williams

China’s best tennis player, Wáng Qiáng 王蔷, stunned the all-time great Serena Williams over three sets (6-4, 6-7 [2], 7-5) to claim arguably the biggest scalp in her career in the Australian Open on Friday.

The 29-year-old Wang, who has been improving in the last few seasons and is currently ranked 27th in the world, told the gathered press that she believed she could win before the game.

“I told my team I could always do it today,” Wang said. “It was really good to work. I am very happy. After the second set, I was a little confused. I had to be calm. My mind always tells me I have to be calm and trust myself.”

Wang won the first set 6-4, breaking Williams in the final game. She almost had a straight-sets victory, but lost an intense tiebreaker in the second set. In a tense third set, Wang held her nerve to win 7-5, breaking one of the greats.

Wang had previously been thrashed by Williams in last year’s U.S. Open 6-0, 6-1, but the Chinese star arrived in Melbourne with the wind in her sails, following strong performances in the Shenzhen Open and Adelaide earlier this month.

Unfortunately for Wang, she would fall to unseeded Ons Jebeur of Tunisia in the fourth round, 7-6, 6-1.

The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.