After three years of isolation and financial struggles in Chinese soccer, the country is reopening its borders and economy to the outside world, AP reports.

With it, frustrated fans, financially challenged clubs and unpaid players in the Chinese Super League might receive some long-awaited good news.

The 2022 season was unrecognizable from the 2019 edition, the last before COVID-19 hit. Then the league had an average attendance of over 24,000, the highest in Asia, and a number of big-name foreign imports.

From 2020 onwards, Beijing’s “zero-COVID” policy, designed to stamp out the virus, meant that teams mostly played in empty stadiums at centralized venues. Players were stuck in bio-secure bubbles for months on end and international stars, unable to enter the country, were released from contracts.

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