Games Hangzhou Asian Games postponed until 2023 over COVID

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NEW DELHI, May 6 (Reuters) - The Asian Games scheduled to take place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September have been postponed until 2023 because of the COVID-19 situation, the governing Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said on Friday.

The 19th edition of the multi-sports Games, second in size only to the Summer Olympics, was scheduled to take place from Sept. 10-25 in the capital of Zhejiang province, some 175 kilometres southwest of China's financial centre Shanghai.

The OCA said in a statement after its executive board meeting in Tashkent that the Hangzhou organising committee (HAGOC) had been well prepared to deliver the Games despite the "global challenges".

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"However, the ... 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."

OCA acting president Randhir Singh told Reuters a task force has been set up to decide new dates for the Games.

"It's because of the COVID problem... that the Games had to be postponed by one year, by whatever months they decide on," Singh said from Tashkent.

"We formed a task force, they will look into it... and decide the timing with the concurrence of the Chinese Olympic Committee."

Singh was sorry for the athletes but felt hosting the Games next year would mean they would have a better chance of peaking at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

ASIAN YOUTH GAMES CANCELLED

Organisers had said in early April that all 56 competition venues for the Games had been completed as the city prepared to host more than 11,000 athletes from 44 nations and territories.

"With the support and guidance of the OCA and the Chinese Olympic Committee, we will continue to do a good job in the preparatory work and believe that the postponed Hangzhou Asian Games will be a complete success," HAGOC said on the Chinese version of their website.

The Asian Youth Games, scheduled for December in Shantou, have been cancelled altogether. Tashkent will host its next edition in 2025.

The World University Games, scheduled for next month in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu, has also been postponed to next year.

Shanghai said on Friday it has brought China's worst outbreak of COVID-19 under effective control following a month-long lockdown of nearly 25 million people. read more

Other cities, including the capital Beijing, are facing a wave of additional curbs, frequent testing and targeted lockdowns.

Most international sporting events in China have been postponed or cancelled since the start of the pandemic, with the notable exception of the Winter Olympics, which went ahead in Beijing under strict health controls in February.

The start of the Chinese Super League football competition has been delayed and the matches, should they go ahead, could be played under closed-loop management, state media reported.

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Additional reporting by Sudipto Ganguly and Martin Pollard, Editing by Peter Rutherford and Toby Davis

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