The 2022 Asian Games which was to be held in September in China has been postponed. The 19th edition of the Games were to be played in Hangzhou from 10 to 25 September.
The current situation China with regards to COVID-19 has forced the organisers to postpone the multi-sport event, second in size only to the Summer Olympics.
The decision to postpone the Games was taken at a OCA executive board meeting in Tashkent on Friday.
The Chinese media reported the development on Friday, citing the Olympic Council of Asia.
“The Olympic Council of Asia has 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, first posted on Chinese state media.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games too were postponed by a year because of Covid-19 and held last year.
"Following detailed discussions with the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) and the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC), the OCA Executive Board (EB) today decided to postpone the 19th Asian Games, which were scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China, from 10 to 25 September 2022. The new dates of the 19th Asian Games will be agreed between the OCA, the COC and the HAGOC (Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee) and announced in the near future," said the OCA statement.
Dates for when the Games will be played next are yet to be declared with the event being postponed indefinitely. The packed calendar next due to the Olympic qualification events means, the OCA and the Asian Games organisers are unable to finalise a date yet.
Hangzhou lies near the country’s biggest city, Shanghai, which has gone through a lockdown as part of the approach against COVID.
Organisers had said last month that Hangzhou, a city of 12 million in eastern China, had finished constructing some 56 competition venues for the Asian Games and Asian Para Games.
The decision to postpone the Games will likely have an effect on the 2024 Paris Olympics qualification system, especially in sports such as hockey where Asian Games gold medalists were to be awarded a direct berth.
China had previously hosted the Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010.
The OCA also said that the Asian Youth Games Shantou 2021, which had been postponed earlier, will be cancelled now.
"Additionally, the OCA EB also studied the situation of the 3rd Asian Youth Games, which was scheduled on 20-28 December this year in Shantou, China. After discussion with the COC and the Organising Committee, the OCA EB decided that as the Asian Youth Games had already been postponed once, the Asian Youth Games Shantou 2021 will be cancelled. The next Asian Youth Games will therefore be held in 2025 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
"The OCA thanks Shantou Organising Committee for its great work during the preparation phase. We strongly believe that this effort will be beneficial to many different aspects of the development of the city, especially in the field of sport as well as for the promotion of Olympic spirit in Asia," said the statement.
(With Inputs from AFP and Indian Express)