China withdraws from hosting 2023 Asian Cup

Country was set to host Asia's showpiece football tournament next year for first time since 2004 but calls of plans amid ongoing battle against Covid-19

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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - July 26, 2018: AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 ticket launch. Thursday, July 26th, 2018 in Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Next year’s Asian Cup will not take place in China as the country continues to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, it was confirmed on Saturday.

The 24-team event, which was last hosted by the UAE in 2019, was set to be staged across 10 Chinese cities from June 16 to July 16, 2023. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said a replacement host will be announced "in due course".

On Saturday, a statement from the AFC read: “Following extensive discussions with the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the Asian Football Confederation has been officially informed by the CFA that it would not be able to host the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

"The AFC acknowledges the exceptional circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the relinquishment by China PR of its hosting rights.

"The AFC will continue to work closely with its commercial partners and stakeholders to chart the course forward and remains grateful to them for their understanding and support during this period. Further details about the next steps related to the hosting of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 will be announced in due course.”

The Asian Cup is the latest international sporting event to be affected by China's ongoing battle with the pandemic. Earlier this month, it was announced that the Asian Games, set to be held in Hangzhou, were postponed from their original September slot until next year.

China has implemented a zero-Covid policy, with restrictions tightening because of a recent outbreak of the Omicron variant. The country was set to host the Asian Cup for the first time since 2004.

There has been speculation that the rescheduled tournament could take place in Qatar, but in 2024. Qatar are the reigning Asian champions following their title success three years ago.

Updated: May 14, 2022, 8:20 AM
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