Chinese football gets go-ahead after 2,000 negative virus tests

The Chinese Super League is poised to kick off on Saturday as planned after all players registered negative for coronavirus as part of a vast testing programme.

A total of 1,870 people, including players and coaching staff, were tested as they entered a safe "bubble" designed to prevent infections. All were negative, the CSL said.

Players will be tested for coronavirus once a week during the delayed and revamped season, Xinhua news agency said.

The 16 teams have been split into two groups, one based in the northeastern city of Dalian and the other in Suzhou, near Shanghai, as part of coronavirus safety measures.

All players, staff and officials are housed at a single hotel in each host city and are not allowed to see their families for the first two months.

The season, which was supposed to begin in February before the pandemic struck, will launch with Fabio Cannavaro's champions Guangzhou Evergrande playing FA Cup winners Shanghai Shenhua in Dalian.

Wuhan Zall, the club from the original epicentre of the epidemic, play newly promoted Qingdao Huanghai later Saturday in Suzhou.

All matches will be behind closed doors.

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