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Japan sounded out as Asian Cup hosts

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan has been “sounded out” about hosting next year’s Asian Cup, the country’s football chief said, after China withdrew from staging the tournament over coronavirus concerns.

Japan Football Association chairman Kozo Tashima told the Nikkan Sports daily that Asian Football Confederation officials had been in touch regarding hosting the 24-team tournament, but gave no further details.

“We’ve just been sounded out,” Tashima was quoted as saying.

“If Japan were to host it, it would be exciting, no doubt about it.”

China last week pulled out of hosting the tournament, which had been due to be staged in 10 cities in June and July next year, as the country pursues a strict zero-COVID strategy.

The move came one week after organisers of the Asian Games, due to take place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou this September, announced that the event would be postponed.

Japan, which co-hosted Asia’s first World Cup with South Korea 20 years ago, has not staged the Asian Cup since 1992.