The Asian Games 2022, which was supposed to be held in Hangzhou, China from 10th September 2022 has been postponed to an unspecified date, as per the latest reports by Chinese state media.
The decision is said to have been taken in wake of rising covid-19 cases in the host country. Around 10,000 athletes from across the Asian continent were expected to flock down to Hangzhou for the quadrennial event to compete in 40 different sports.
Even last week, the Asian Games organisers and the Olympic Council of Asia had insisted that the event will go 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 plans to keep a strict bio-bubble in place, similar to the one the country had seen during the Winter Olympics earlier this year.
The new dates will be announced in near future. An air of uncertainty was hovering over the 19th edition of the multi-sports Games ever since Shanghai came under a fresh wave of the pandemic, forcing a lockdown in the city.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Executive Board met in Tashkent on Friday to discuss the situation and felt postponing the Games was the best decision under the circumstances.
"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 OCA said in a statement, posted on its website.
"The new dates of the 19th Asian Games will be agreed upon between the OCA, the COC and the HAGOC and announced in the near future," the statement added.
The OCA said the HAGOC was well prepared to deliver the Games on time despite global challenges. However, after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the magnitude of the Games, the decision was taken by all the stakeholders.
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.
About 11,000 athletes were to compete in 61 sporting disciplines in the Games. The development comes at a time when China is battling a record number of daily cases in Shanghai, which is only a short train ride away from Games host city Hangzhou.
Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, is about 175 kilometres southwest of Shanghai. As per the latest update, Zhejiang has recorded 3124 positive cases and one death. Additionally, the 3rd Asian Youth Games, which was scheduled from December 20-28 in Shantou, China have also been cancelled. The next Asian Youth Games will therefore be held in 2025 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
(With inputs from PTI)