Caixin
May 14, 2022 07:55 PM
CHINA

China Pulls Out of Hosting 2023 Asian Cup Due to Covid

What’s new: China has pulled out of its commitment to host the 2023 Asian Cup due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, soccer officials announced Saturday, as hundreds of millions of people across the country remain under some form of lockdown or subject to other strict controls on their movements.

“Following extensive discussions with the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has been officially informed by the CFA that it would not be able to host the AFC Asian Cup 2023,” the confederation said in a statement.

The 24-nation tournament, held every four years, was scheduled to be hosted across 10 cities between June 16 and July 16 next year. China was awarded hosting rights in June 2019.

The AFC noted that “the exceptional circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic” had led Chinese football organizers to make “this very difficult but necessary decision in the collective interests” of the tournament.

“Due to the impact of the pandemic, it is difficult for the Chinese Organizing Committee to pledge at this moment to hold next year’s Asian Cup under a fully open model,” the committee said in a statement on Weibo.

Earlier this month, China postponed the 2022 Asian Games, which were scheduled to be held in Hangzhou from September 10 to 25, also due to the Covid epidemic.

The background: The country is battling its worst Covid-19 outbreak since early 2020, with the government doggedly sticking to its “zero-Covid” policy by imposing strict lockdowns across the country including the financial hub of Shanghai and widespread mass testing to prevent further spread of the omicron variant.

As of May 10, 41 Chinese cities were implementing full or partial lockdowns or some kind of district-based control measures, which involve stringent measures on restricting mobility of local residents, according to a research note published by Nomura Holdings Inc. the same day.

It estimated that around 289.8 million people across China are currently affected by these lockdown measures.

Contact reporter Kelsey Cheng (kelseycheng@caixin.com) 

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