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HomeEconomyChina withdraws as Football Asian Cup host due to pandemic MPNRC News
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China withdraws as Football Asian Cup host due to pandemic MPNRC News

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China withdraws as Football Asian Cup host due to pandemic

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China has withdrawn as the 2023 Asian Cup host due to the coronavirus, football officials said on Saturday, adding that Beijing’s strict zero-Covid strategy is another blow to the country’s sporting ambitions.

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Authorities in China are adopting a strategy to stamp out the virus completely, including rapid lockdowns and mass testing, and millions in Shanghai have faced heavy restrictions for more than a month.

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But the measures – now rare globally, as most countries have shifted to live with Covid – have made hosting sporting events a major challenge.

The Olympic-sized Asian Games, scheduled for September in Hangzhou, had already been postponed earlier this month, and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Saturday that China would not host the Asian Cup.

Chinese football officials informed the AFC that they would not be able to host the 24-team competition, which was to be held in 10 cities in June and July next year.

No new host nation was named.

“The AFC acknowledges the extraordinary circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused (China) to relinquish its hosting rights,” the governing body said in a statement.

Those involved in organizing the tournament had made “this very difficult but necessary decision in the collective interest of the tournament”.

The Asian Cup is organized every four years. Qatar had won the previous edition in 2019.

This would have been the second time China had staged the Asian Cup. They hosted it in 2004, when the hosts lost 3–1 to Japan in the final.

The loss of major sporting events is a blow to the ruling Communist Party, which lit up its global image with dazzling spectacles such as Beijing’s 2008 Summer and 2022 Winter Olympics.

With the exception of this year’s Winter Olympics – held in February in a virus-protected, closed-loop Beijing bubble – the world’s most populous country has canceled almost all events since the outbreak of Covid in Wuhan in late 2019. or postponed.

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