The Asian Games in Hangzhou, which were due to take place from September 10-25, were postponed indefinitely on Friday amid a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in China, a development that was expected and drew mixed reactions from the from Indian athletes.
The new dates will be announced soon but as 2024 is the Olympic year, the Asian Games could be postponed to 2023 when the pandemic situation is under control.
An air of uncertainty has hung over the 19th edition of the Multi-Sport Games since Shanghai suffered a new wave of the pandemic, forcing the city into lockdown. The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) executive board met in Tashkent on Friday to discuss the situation and deemed postponing the Games was the best decision under the circumstances.
”Following extensive discussions with the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) and the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC), the OCA Executive Council (EC) today decided to postpone the 19th Games. Asia, which was to be held in Hangzhou, China. , September 10-25, 2022,” the OCA said in a statement posted on its website.
About 11,000 athletes were expected to compete in 61 sports at the Games. It is the first big-budget multi-sport event to be postponed after the COVID-19 pandemic forced Tokyo Olympics organizers to delay the quadrennial event by a year until 2021. of the 19th Asian Games will be agreed between the OCA, COC and HAGOC and announced in the near future,” the OCA statement added.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) said the postponement of the Games is “certainly a bit of a setback” for some athletes.
”The postponement of any major event or Games is a disappointment for the athletes. They age a few months or a year, whatever the case when the Games are rescheduled,’ IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta told PTI.
“Many of our athletes had already started training and preparations for the Asian Games, and the IOA cares about that. The postponement was on the planned lines due to COVID-19 but it was not in our hands.” Indian men’s hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh said the delay of the Games is disappointing, but it gives them more time to prepare.
The winners of the men’s and women’s hockey events will gain direct entry to the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“It’s a disappointment, but somewhere down the line we expected it given the situation in China. But we want to see it from a positive perspective because we will have more time to prepare for the Asian Games,” Sreejesh told PTI.
”We already have experience of playing in postponed Games (Tokyo Olympics) so we know what it takes to stay fit.” ”The positive part is that there are a lot of tournaments ahead of us, such as the Asian Cup, the Pro League matches in Belgium, the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup next year. The dates for the postponed Asian Games have not yet been announced, so we will have enough time to prepare as well as possible for the Asian Games. The draw against Norway will not collide now.
”It’s good for us. Our players will not be under pressure to play two big events in the space of seven days. We can send the best teams to both events. We can focus on the Davis Cup first and then prepare,” said AITA Secretary General Anil Dhupar.
The Davis Cup fixture away from India is scheduled in Norway on September 16-17 or 17-18.
The OCA said HAGOC was well prepared to deliver the Games on time despite the global challenges. However, after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the scale of the Games, the decision was made by all stakeholders.
The name and emblem of the 19th Asian Games will remain unchanged, and the OCA believes that the Games will be a complete success thanks to the joint efforts of all parties.
The development comes at a time when China is battling a record number of daily cases in Shanghai, which is only a short train ride from Games host city Hangzhou. Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, is about 175 kilometers southwest of Shanghai. According to the latest update, Zhejiang has recorded 3,124 positive cases and one death.
Additionally, the 3rd Asian Youth Games, scheduled for Dec. 20-28 in Shantou, China, has also been canceled.
The next Asian Youth Games will therefore be held in 2025 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The World University Games, another major multi-sport event to be held in the western Chinese city of Chengdu from June 26 to July 7, has also been postponed to next year, organizers said on Friday. The Games, which were due to see the participation of around 6,000 athletes, were due to take place last year but were postponed to 2022 following the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. The Switzerland-based International University Sports Federation (FISU), which runs the Games, said they would be held in 2023 but gave no date or details.
“Following extensive discussions between FISU, the Chengdu 2021 Organizing Committee and other stakeholders, a decision has been made to postpone the FISU World University Games until 2023,” FISU said. on its official website.
India won four medals in the last edition in Naples, Italy in 2019, including a gold medal in the 100m from Dutee Chand.
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