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Hangzhou’s Asian Games postponed amid COVID-19 concerns

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has today (Friday) announced the postponement of Hangzhou’s 2022 Asian Games, citing the “pandemic situation” and the size of the multi-sport event.

The Chinese city was due to host the Asian Games, eclipsed in scale as a sporting event only by the Summer Olympic Games, from September 10-25. However, China is currently in the midst of its worst outbreak of COVID-19 since the beginning of the global pandemic and the OCA said it has acted following “detailed discussions” with the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) and the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC).

The OCA said in a statement: “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.

“HAGOC 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.”

The OCA has also announced the outright cancellation of the 3rd Asian Youth Games, which was scheduled for December 20-28 in Shantou, China. After discussion with the COC and the Organising Committee, the OCA decided that as Shantou’s Games had already been postponed once, it will now be cancelled. The next Asian Youth Games will therefore be held in 2025 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Along with the Asian Games, China has seen the postponement of another multi-sport event today. Following “extensive discussions” between the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the Chengdu 2021 Organising Committee and other stakeholders, FISU said a decision has been taken to postpone the World University Games until 2023.

Chengdu’s Games had initially been scheduled for the summer of 2021, but were rescheduled for June 26 to July 7 this year following the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Hangzhou was awarded the 2022 Asian Games hosting rights uncontested back in September 2015, with China having previously staged the event in Beijing (1990) and Guangzhou (2010).

It was announced last month that all venues for this year’s Asian Games had been completed and could begin hosting test events. Comprehensive checks were carried out at the 56 venues that will be used during the Asian Games and the Asian Para Games. Twelve venues have been newly constructed, while 26 have been reconstructed, nine are existing facilities and a further nine have been set up as temporary destinations.

Organisers said the venues have been built with the concept ‘Green, Smart, Economical, Ethical’ in mind to meet the needs of the various sports. Venues are located in Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Huzhou, Shaoxing, Jinhua and other cities.

Venues will include the Yellow Dragon Sports Center, which has undergone redevelopment work ahead of the Games. The venue is located 18km from the Asian Games Village and under its new guise comprises a 52,000-seat stadium with an athletics track, a 6,000-seat arena and a 2,000-seat aquatics centre.

The Alibaba Sports division of Chinese technology giant Alibaba in October sealed a 15-year contract to operate and manage Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center (pictured), another of the Games venues.

Image: Charlie fong/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size