The Asian Games that were set to be held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September have been postponed, organisers said on Friday, as China continues to battle a spread of COVID-19 cases.
The Olympic Council of Asia said, following a meeting with the Chinese Olympic Committee, that the 19th Asian Games, scheduled to be held in September, would be postponed and new dates announced “in the near future”. The Asian Youth Games, also to be held in China in December in Shantou, would be cancelled as the games had been postponed once last year.
Another major event that China was to host this summer, the World University Games, has also been postponed. The International University Sports Federation (FISU) said the games, to be held in Chengdu, would likely be held next year.
The postponements underlined the costs of China’s “zero-COVID” strategy. The cities had already prepared venues for the events and extensive arrangements to welcome athletes from around the world.
While the rest of the world has opened up and returned to some form of normalcy, China remains the only country still closed to the world and following a strict “zero-COVID” approach. China still bars most international travellers.
Harsh lockdown of Shanghai
That approach led to a harsh lockdown of Shanghai for more than one month, with many of the city’s 26 million residents still under some form of restrictions. Beijing, meanwhile, has carried out repeated mass testing and closed schools as it deals with cases.
Amid growing criticism of the stringent measures, the ruling Communist Party’s top leadership met on Thursday and issued a strong signal to reaffirm that the current policy would remain in place.
A meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee chaired by President Xi Jinping said the “zero-COVID” approach would continue and warned those who questioned it, saying that the Communist Party would “resolutely oppose” and “resolutely struggle” against those who doubted the current policy.