China relinquishes East Asian hosting rights due to COVID situation

HONG KONG, April 19 (Reuters) - China has been replaced by Japan as hosts of the East Asian Football Championships in July due to COVID-19 issues, organisers said on Tuesday.

China had been due to host the East Asian Football Federation's (EAFF) flagship competition for the third time after 2008 and 2015 but withdrew due to the "recent situations of COVID-19 pandemic" across the country.

Japan will now host the event, which features tournaments for both men's and women's teams, from July 19 to 27. The Chinese men's and women's sides will still take part in the competition.

The move comes after Chinese Super League side Shanghai Port withdrew from the Asian Champions League earlier this month due to the tightening of restrictions on movement in and out of the city.

South Korea and Japan will be joined by China and Hong Kong in the men's tournament after the EAFF scrapped plans for a qualifying tournament involving other regional sides.

The women's competition will feature recently crowned Asian Cup winners China as well as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Peter Rutherford

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