The Chinese Super League is planning to allow a very limited number of spectators into a high-profile match on Saturday, the first time fans can attend a game since the coronavirus pandemic.
It is a major step towards normalising football in China, where the virus was first detected last year, and could pave the way for some fans to attend future fixtures.
The CSL kicked off on July 25 behind closed doors, at neutral venues in Suzhou and Dalian, and five months late because of the health crisis.
Football officials spent Wednesday thrashing out details with Suzhou authorities and are aiming for 500 fans from Shanghai SIPG and the same number from title rivals Beijing Guoan.
Beijing Youth Daily said Thursday that the numbers were awaiting approval from “relevant departments”, but that 1,900 spectators in total may be allowed to attend the match.
That would include the Beijing and Shanghai fans, medical personnel who helped fight the coronavirus and workers involved in battling recent heavy flooding in China.
Anyone going to Saturday’s game must provide a certificate proving they have passed a coronavirus test within the past week, wear a mask, keep at least one metre (three feet) apart and have a temperature check on entry.
Football leagues across the world have restarted despite the pandemic, but they have often done so without spectators and are now juggling how to safely allow fans to return.