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Asian Games postponed as China battles COVID

BEIJING (AFP) – The Asian Games due to take place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September have been postponed indefinitely because of COVID-19, organisers said yestedray.

The Games were scheduled to be held from September 10 to 25 but have now been delayed as China tries to stamp out a large resurgence in infections in several parts of the country.

Hangzhou lies less than 200km from the country’s biggest city Shanghai, which has endured a weeks-long lockdown as part of the ruling Communist Party’s zero-tolerance approach to the virus.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said in a statement that the decision to postpone “was taken by all the stakeholders after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the Games”.

New dates for the Games, which typically attract more than 10,000 athletes from across the region, will be announced “in the near future”, the statement said.

The World University Games, scheduled to begin next month in Chengdu and already delayed once from last year, have also been postponed again until 2023, organisers said. The

International University Sports Federation (FISU) said rescheduling was the best option given “continued uncertainty over conditions”.

Organisers said last month that Hangzhou, a city of 12 million in eastern China, had finished constructing some 56 competition venues for the Asian Games and Asian Para Games.

At the time, they indicated that they planned to hold the event under a virus control plan that “learns from the successful experience” of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which were held in February in a strict Covid-secure bubble.

But doubts had persisted over whether the Games would go ahead, with an OCA official telling AFP last month that there was a possibility of postponement.

A countdown clock showing 127 days until the opening of the 2022 Asian Games is seen in Hangzhou, in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. PHOTO: AFP
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