Monday, 13 May, 2024

Asian Games in China postponed over Covid concerns

The Olympic Council of Asia announced the postponement of the 19th Asian Games “after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the Games.”

The new dates for the sporting contest “will be announced at a later date,” the council said. (AFP)

The Asian Games due to take place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September have been postponed indefinitely because of Covid-19.

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

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 200 kilometres (120 miles) 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 new dates for the sporting contest "will be announced at a later date," the statement added.

READ MORE:First human case of H3N8 bird flu detected in China

'Sensible choice'

The World University Games, another major multi-sport event, have also been postponed, organizers said on Friday. They were scheduled for last year but were postponed until 2022.

They were to take place this year from June 26-July 7 in the western city of Chengdu. About 6,000 athletes were believed to be involved.

The Switzerland-based International University Sports Federation, which runs the games, said they would be held in 2023 but gave no date or details.

“Continued uncertainty over conditions has made rescheduling the sensible choice,” FISU president Leonz Eder said in a statement.

Both events were expected to take place using the “closed-loop” system that was in place for the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics. It kept athletes and media isolated from the general population of Beijing and required daily tests and frequent temperature checks for everyone involved.

The Winter Olympics were a relatively small event with only 2,900 athletes. The Winter Paralympics had about 700.

The spread of the Omicron variant and lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing seems to have made holding both events impossible, even though just a few weeks ago organisers said both events would go ahead.

The OCA also announced that the Asian Youth Games, which were scheduled for December 20-28 in Shantou, China, would be cancelled.

The youth games, which had already been postponed once, will next be held in 2025 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

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