The Asian Games which were to be held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September have been postponed to 2023 due to the COVID-19 situation, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced on Friday. The 19th edition of the Multi-Sports Games, second in size to the Summer Olympics, was scheduled to take place from September 10 to 25 in the provincial capital of Zhejiang, some 175 kilometers southwest of China’s financial center of Shanghai.
The OCA said in a statement after its board meeting in Tashkent that the Hangzhou Organizing Committee (HAGOC) had been well prepared to stage the Games despite “global challenges”. “However, the decision was made by all stakeholders after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the Games.”
“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.” OCA acting president Randhir Singh told Reuters a working group had been set up to decide on new dates for the Games.
“It was because of the COVID problem (…) that the Games had to be postponed for a year, whatever month they decide,” Singh said from Tashkent. “We have formed a working group, they will look into the matter…and decide on the timing with the agreement of the Chinese Olympic Committee.”
Singh felt sorry for the athletes, but felt that hosting the Games next year would mean they would have a better chance of culminating in the Paris Olympics in 2024. ASIAN YOUTH GAMES CANCELED
Organizers said in early April that all 56 competition venues for the Games had been completed as the city prepared to welcome more than 11,000 athletes from 44 nations and territories. “With the support and guidance of the OCA and the Chinese Olympic Committee, we will continue to do a good job in the preparatory work and believe that the postponed Asian Games in Hangzhou will be a complete success,” HAGOC said on the Chinese version. of their website.
The Asian Youth Games, scheduled for December in Shantou, have been purely and simply canceled. Tashkent will host its next edition in 2025. The World University Games, scheduled for next month in the southwest Chinese city of Chengdu, have also been postponed until next year.
Shanghai said on Friday it had effectively brought China’s worst COVID-19 outbreak under control after a month-long lockdown of nearly 25 million people. Other cities, including the capital Beijing, are facing a wave of additional restrictions, frequent testing and targeted lockdowns.
Most international sporting events in China have been postponed or canceled since the start of the pandemic, with the notable exception of the Winter Olympics, which took place in Beijing under strict health controls in February. The start of the Chinese Super League soccer competition has been delayed and matches, if they were to take place, could be played on a closed circuit, state media reported. (Additional reporting by Sudipto Ganguly and Martin Pollard, editing by Peter Rutherford and Toby Davis)
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