With the coronavirus situation calming down across China, there had been hopes of starting the 2020 football season in the near future.
Chinese soccer teams that run their preseason training camps across the world have all returned home in recent weeks, with normalcy starting to slowly return to several cities and provinces.
Hopes have started to believe that competitive soccer games could resume in a month or two, but that seems to have been dashed after the country’s recent decision to close the border to all international flights.
While all Chinese clubs have returned, a number of foreign players and coaches are staying away, trying to get the necessary visas that would allow them to come and play for their new clubs.
The last club to return to China, Changchun Yatai, only had one foreign player who arrived in the country before the shutdown. Serginho would now be in Tianjin in quarantine for the prescribed 14 days, while Alan Olanare and Lucas Souza would remain in their home countries.
Only players and coaches who had previously obtained visas were able to return on time, along with some top managers such as Bruno Genesio from Beijing Guo’an and Uli Stielike from Tianjin TEDA. now unable to connect with their players.
A trio of foreign players from Shanghai SIPG were able to return to the Middle Kingdom, narrowly missing the implementation of the shutdown by around ten minutes according to reports in the country.
The Hulk, Oscar and Ricardo Lopes will be placed in 14-day quarantine before they can join the rest of the Chinese high-flyers in preparations for the new season.
If some have managed to return, there is a clear majority who will have to wait at home, without a specific date for a possible opening of the borders.
With most of the league’s top players unable to return, this will postpone the start of the new season again, with a start date in June or even July, a more realistic timeline.