Less than three months after Beijing hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the Asian Olympic Council said on Friday that this year’s Asian Games in China are being postponed due to concerns about the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in country.
The OCA said it had not chosen new dates, but said they would be announced “in the near future” after talks with local organizers and the Chinese Olympic Committee.
The OCA statement said local organizers were “very well prepared to deliver the games on time despite the global challenges. However, the decision was made by all stakeholders after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the games. .
The postponement reflects a growing concern among the Chinese leadership about the rapid spread of outbreaks from Shanghai to Beijing in a major political year. The ruling Communist Party is holding a major meeting this autumn and does not want any signs of instability, whether or not they are related to the pandemic.
China maintains a “zero-COVID” strategy of blockades and other restrictions despite the economic costs and the fact that many other countries around the world are loosening up and trying to live with the virus.
Chinese state television also reported on the postponement of the Asian Games in a brief statement, but did not specify anything about the rescheduling.
The Asian Games were held from September 10 to 25 in the eastern city of Hangzhou and would involve more than 11,000 athletes, more than the typical Summer Olympics. The last edition was in 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The World University Games, another major multi-sport event, has also been postponed, organizers said on Friday. They were scheduled for last year but have been postponed until 2022. They will be held this year from June 26 to July 7 in the western city of Chengdu. About 6,000 athletes were believed to be involved.
The Swiss-based International Federation of University Sports, which runs the games, said they would be held in 2023, but gave no date or details.
“Continued uncertainty over the conditions has made rescheduling a sensible choice,” FISU President Leonz Eder said in a statement.
Both events are expected to take place through the “closed circuit” system that was in place for the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games. It kept athletes and media isolated from the general population of Beijing and required frequent daily tests and temperature checks for all involved.
The Winter Olympics were a relatively small event with only 2,900 athletes. The Paralympic Winter Games had about 700.
The release of the omicron variant in Shanghai and Beijing seems to make it impossible to hold both events, although just a few weeks ago organizers said both events would go ahead. Much of Shanghai, a financial, manufacturing and shipping hub, has been blocked, disrupting people’s lives and wreaking havoc on the economy.
The OCA also announced that the Asian Youth Games, which were scheduled for December 20 and 28 in Shantou, China, would be canceled. The youth games, which had once been postponed, will be held in 2025 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Two international track meetings scheduled to be held in China this year have also been suspended.
Diamond League meetings in Shanghai and Shenzhen have been removed from the schedule “due to travel restrictions and strict quarantine requirements currently in place for entry into China,” organizers said in a statement.
World Athletics said a substitute event will be held in Chorzow, Poland, on August 6.
The strict policy of “COVID Zero” was closely identified with President Xi Jinping, head of the ruling Communist Party, and was emphatically reaffirmed at the meeting of the almighty Politburo Standing Committee on Thursday.
“Relaxation will undoubtedly lead to a large number of infections, critical cases and deaths, which will seriously affect the economic and social development and life and health of people,” the official Xinhua news agency said in its summary of the meeting’s conclusions. .
The meeting “stressed the importance of unwaveringly adhering to the dynamic zero-COVID policy and resolutely fighting any attempt to distort, question or rule out China’s anti-COVID policy.”
China reported a total of 4,628 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the vast majority of them asymptomatic and detected in Shanghai, China’s largest city, about 177 kilometers east of Hangzhou.
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The Asian Games in China have been postponed due to the spread of COVID-19
Source link The Asian Games in China have been postponed due to the spread of COVID-19