Yao Ming, president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), is confident of a spectacular Chinese basketball league after its resumption following a nearly five-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The stage of resumption has been set. Finally, it's time for the curtain to rise," the Chinese basketball icon wrote in a letter to all participants of the league.
The CBA season is set to restart on Saturday, with matches to be played behind closed doors in a championship-style format. Qingdao, in east China's Shandong province, and southern city of Dongguan in Guangdong province have been selected as host cities of the first stage of competitions after CBA's resumption.
"Since February 1, our CBA league has undergone an unprecedented break along with the entire society. However, many of us still stayed in our work place and maintained training, and some had to go through long travels and quarantine due to anti-virus measures."
Yao, on behalf of the league, expressed his gratitude to coaches, players, referees and staff for their dedication, especially those who volunteered to accept a pay cut to help the league through difficulties.
"Everything that you have done is a full commitment to CBA's resumption and even the long-term and healthy development of Chinese basketball."
"What we've experienced this season will leave a landmark in the history of the league, and everyone's contribution will be remembered," Yao noted.
For Yao, CBA's resumption will have a social impact beyond basketball itself as it is the first major sports league to return to action in China.
"Hopefully everyone can show a positive image through your endeavor, and demonstrate the real spirit of sport to your families, friends and the whole society through basketball," Yao added.
Due to the current situation, participants had to live and play matches in a relatively isolated environment in upcoming matches, but the league has provided some leisure activities to players to help them relax and maintain a good form to play, according to Yao.
"It's not our usual pace to play behind closed doors in a championship-style format," Yao wrote. "However, those games that we haven't played for a long time are approaching. I hope that everyone can understand the situation and fully commit yourself to playing against all odds."
"Through everyone's effort, the CBA league that we love will be spectacular. Let's spare no effort for the resumption," he concluded.