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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Hangzhou Asian Games postponed after fresh Covid wave in China

The decision comes at a time when China, where the virus emerged in late 2019, is experiencing its biggest Covid-19 outbreak.

Written by Mihir Vasavda |
Updated: May 6, 2022 7:08:11 pm
The Asian Games were to be held from September 10-25 in Hangzhou. (@19thAGofficial/Twitter)

The Asian Games, which were to be held from September 10-25 in Hangzhou, have been postponed due to the pandemic, China’s state media reported on Friday. No alternative date has been announced so far.

The decision comes at a time when China, where the virus emerged in late 2019, is experiencing its biggest Covid-19 outbreak. The country is battling a record number of daily cases in Shanghai, which has been under lockdown for more than a month. Shanghai is just a short train ride away from Hangzhou, where mass Covid-19 testing began last week to keep a check on rising omicron cases. In the last few days, China’s capital Beijing, too, began tightening its Covid curbs.

Till as recently as last week, the organisers and the Olympic Council of Asia had insisted that the Asian Games, second only to the Olympics in terms of size, will go ahead as scheduled in September. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra had earlier this week said they received an intimation continental body, confirming the same.

The organisers had put in place plans for a strict bio-bubble, similar to the one enforced during the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this year, and ‘successfully rehearsed’ it last week during a test event for the Asian Games.

However, following a meeting of the OCA’s executive committee, it was decided to postpone the Games. Given a packed international calendar in 2023, where Olympic qualification events for all sports will be held, the OCA and the Asian Games organisers did not immediately announce new dates for the Games.

The decision is likely to have a bearing on the Paris Olympics qualification system, especially in sports such as hockey where Asian Games gold medalists were to be awarded a direct berth.

In a statement, the OCA said the decision was taken due to the current pandemic situation in China and the ‘size of the Games’.

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“The new dates of the 19th Asian Games will be agreed between the OCA, the COC and the HAGOC and announced in the near future,” the OCA said. “HAGOC (Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee) has been very well prepared to deliver the Games on time despite global challenges. However, the above decision was taken by all the stakeholders after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the Games. The name and the emblem of the 19th Asian Games will remain unchanged, and the OCA believes that the Games will achieve complete success through the joint efforts of all parties.”

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