Less than three months after Beijing hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, reports in China on Friday said this year’s Asian Games are being postponed because of concerns over the spreading omicron variant of COVID-19 in the country.
China’s state-run television reported the postponement in a brief statement, but did not specify anything about rescheduling. It referenced the Olympic Council of Asia, again with no details.
The World University Games, another major multi-sport event, could also be postponed. They were to take place last year but were postponed until 2022. They were to take place this year on June 26-July 7 in the western city of Chengdu. About 6,000 athletes were believed to be involved.
The Switzerland-based FISU, the International University Sports Federation, which runs the University Games, was expected to issue a statement later on Friday.
The Asian Games were to take place Sept. 10-25 in the eastern city of Hangzhou and would involve more than 11,000 athletes — more than the typical Summer Olympics.
Both events were expected to take place using the “closed-loop” system that was in place for the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics. It kept athletes and media isolated from the general population of Beijing and required daily tests and frequent temperature checks for everyone involved.
The spread of the omicron variant and lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing seems to have made holding both events impossible, even though just a few weeks ago organizers said both events would go ahead.
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