Dr. Zhang Wenhong on when Chinese Super League will be back
Updated 20:35, 19-Jun-2020
Yuan Rui, Liu Jiaqi

Earlier this month, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced that Dr. Zhang Wenhong, director of Shanghai-based Huashan Hospital's Department of Infectious Disease, is acting as a consultant to CFA as it plans the resumption of football games amid COVID-19.

The 2020 Chinese Super League (CSL) season was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and restart date has not been decided. According to Zhang, the return of CSL really depends on the situation in Beijing and the whole country.

"The schedule is still under discussion because the pandemic just re-surged in Beijing. Therefore, we are concerned about the situation," said Zhang in an interview with CGTN's Wang Dong, Sports Scene anchor and commentator.

"The potential coronavirus transmissions from Beijing make it more complicated. I think CSL leaders are concerned about that and will keep changing the timetable."

Zhang also referred to the recent moves by the European football leagues to restart the season.

"European countries have made the decision to restart, because they believe that as the situation of the coronavirus changes every day, if they can keep coronavirus cases under control and the medical system is working well, it will be okay to restart the games."

"In China, however, our target is to keep the cases at near zero, so we are much more prudent and we still need more time."

Zhang also said that games should resume without fans but more audience could be allowed in gradually as the situation gets better.

"If there are near zero cases reported, we will add more audiences. Meanwhile, we will make sure to keep players, coaches and other staff safe enough."

The expert also spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and said that the Games will be a crucial sign of the world reopening.

"I think the Summer Olympics is a very important sign that we can go back to normal. We can open our countries and everyone can go there to see or attend the Olympics."

Zhang added that there are two things necessary for Japan to host the Tokyo Olympic Games.

"One is they can control the domestic disease very well. At the same time, most of the countries in the world should keep the disease under control."

Zhang also pointed out that Beijing, which witnessed a new wave of pandemic, was different from Wuhan, where COVID-19 was first found in China, for three reasons.

Firstly, the time it took to detect and control the virus in Beijing was much shorter than Wuhan. Secondly, most cases in Beijing were tested positive by active screening, avoiding the increase of severe patients. Last but not least, China's current diagnosis, collection and treatment capabilities have much improved.

(Cover image: Professor Zhang Wenhong during a talk show in Shanghai, China, May 6, 2020. /VCG)