Hangzhou Asian Games 2022 Postponed Amidst Covid-19 Surge in China
Hangzhou, a city in the eastern part of China with a population of 12 million, finished constructing 56 competition venues last month for the Asian Games as well as the Asian Para Games.
The 2022 Asian Games, which were scheduled to be staged in Hangzhou from September 10 to 25, have been postponed due to Covid-19 surge in China. The news was reported by China’s state media on Friday, May 6. No timeline for staging the Games -- alternate dates -- were announced.
"The Olympic Council of Asia [OCA] announced that the 19th Asian Games, originally scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China from September 10 to 25, 2022, will be postponed," said a statement on the official Games website. The new dates "will be announced at a later date", it added.
The decision came as China battles a surge in Covid-19 cases. Record number of daily cases were reported in Shanghai in the past month while Beijing has also tightened its curbs along with all major centres in the country. Shanghai, just a short train ride away from Hangzhou, has been under lockdown for more than a month. Mass Covid-19 testing began last week in Hangzhou to keep a tab on the rising number of omicron cases.
Until last week, the organisers had maintained that the Games would take place as scheduled. This was confirmed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra, who mentioned receiving correspondence from OCA regarding the dates.
Hangzhou, a city in the eastern part of China with a population of 12 million, finished constructing 56 competition venues last month for the Asian Games as well as the Asian Para Games. The plan was to hold the events under a strict virus control plan (bio secure bubble) that "learns from the successful experience" of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.
Things changed in a span of a week. Following a meeting of the OCA’s executive committee, it was decided to postpone the Games.
The postponement creates a headache for the athletes as well as the organisers. 2023 comes with its own packed sporting calendar which includes many Olympic qualifying events as well. The Asian Games organisers and the OCA will have to figure out a window that will ensure maximum participation. Whatever the decision will be, since the Asian continental Games attracts huge participation and also acts as an Olympic qualification event for disciplines like hockey, the new dates will pose disruption in the Paris Olympics qualification schedule.
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