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Business Spotlight

Asia's sports business learns how to take a COVID-19 punch

Leagues fast-track digital plans, cut player salaries and prepare for 5G

AKANE OKUTSU, RURIKA IMAHASHI and CK TAN, Nikkei staff writers | Japan

TOKYO/SHANGHAI/NEW DELHI/SEOUL -- The Chinese Super League belatedly kicks off its soccer season on Saturday, becoming the latest Asian sports league to do so, albeit in empty stadiums and after a nearly five-month delay. It will also be without some foreign players and coaches who remain stuck abroad due to China's strict border control measures.

There are no official estimates for revenue losses, but the empty stadiums will be costly. Under normal circumstances, a typical match would attract an average crowd of 50,000, according to local media. Ticket prices are determined by each team's ranking, so they vary. But for one match in November, prices started at 150 yuan ($21).

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