July 10, 2020 / 5:05 AM / a month ago

Olympics trials to be China's only international sport event this year

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will not hold any international sporting events this year aside from trials for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, underscoring the country’s wariness about imported COVID-19 infections amid the global pandemic.

China’s General Administration of Sport, in a policy document published on Thursday, said coaches and athletes who are still abroad “are not required to return immediately.” If they must return, the body said, they must strictly adhere to virus-prevention measures.

The administration instructed organisers and leagues not to invite referees from abroad, and ordered plans for events such as the 14th Chinese National Winter Games and the 6th Asian Beach Games to be “carefully adjusted”.

The global coronavirus outbreak has severely disrupted sporting events, both international and domestic, as social distancing and other prevention measures take precedence. Though China has drastically reduced its number of new COVID-19 cases since the peak of the outbreak in the country in February, it has moved cautiously about resuming sporting events.

South Korea, Japan and Taiwan restarted soccer and baseball leagues as much as several months earlier. China, however, has only recently allowed play to resume for its top sports associations, with the Chinese Basketball Association becoming the first professional sports league to return to play in June.

The Chinese Super League, the country’s premier football league, will kick off the 2020 season in late July, after a delay of five months.

Beijing 2022 organisers said there will be more than 20 trials for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics after December, but as yet there is no exact timetable, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Thursday.

Reporting by Huizhong Wu; Editing by Se Young Lee and Christopher Cushing

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