On a normal day, the roads and public parks in China’s sprawling metropolises are flooded with people exercising—jogging, running, free hand, Tai Chi et al. But now, they are rarely seen. The only race in China these days is medics in masks and virus-proof bodysuits dashing from ambulances to save victims of an epidemic for which there is still no established cure—the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, which has killed more than 2,000 and infected 72,000 people worldwide. And, for the first time since the epidemic exploded in January, the number of patients who had recovered and been discharged from hospital was greater than the number of new cases reported. The WHO applauded China’s drastic measures such as its lockdown of millions of people in numerous cities, especially epicentre Wuhan. But normality is a long way off—it will take time for the people to return to the parks, and for the ‘quarantined’ championships and derby matches to resume in one of the world’s sports powerhouses.
Several sports events, scheduled in China or featuring Chinese athletes or teams, have either been cancelled or postponed. Two of its marquee domestic leagues—the money-spinning Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league and the big-spending Chinese Super League (CSL)—have been held off indefinitely. International events such as the Shanghai F1 Grand Prix, the World Athletics Indoor Championships, Lingshui China Masters (badminton), Ladies Professional Golf Association’s Blue Bay event, the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group I matches, featuring China, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Uzbekistan, the Chinese leg of the Diving World Series and the China Open snooker tournament are also off.