Despite the Covid, China will finally host the Asian Games in 2023

Despite the Covid, China will finally host the Asian Games in 2023

China will finally hold the initially postponed competition, where a health bubble will once again be inducted.

China remains on successful organization of the 2022 Winter Games. Panoramic

They will finally take place in China. Postponed due to the Covid, the 2022 Asian Games will be organized a year late, in 2023, the body responsible for the sporting event announced on Tuesday. The multi-sport competition will be held in Hangzhou (east) from September 23 to October 8, 2023, the Asian Olympic Council (AOC) said.

The event was originally scheduled to take place from September 10-25 this year. But the organizers had announced in May its postponement to an unspecified date. China was at the time hit by a resurgence of the epidemic which had hit the metropolis of Shanghai hard, located less than 200 km from the host city of Hangzhou.

Shanghai was then the subject of a harsh confinement of more than two months in order to stem the epidemic, within the framework of the strict zero Covid policy of the Chinese government. The COA said it had discussed for two months with the Chinese Olympic Committee and the Organizing Committee of the Games in order to find “a window” of dates which do not overlap “with other major international sporting events”.

“Splendid”

China applies a strict health policy with regard to Covid-19, with very regular screenings for the population, compulsory quarantines for people who test positive or even confinements as soon as cases appear. The Asian country has also greatly reduced international connections since 2020, in order to limit the entry of travelers potentially vectors of the coronavirus.

But this situation disrupts the ambitions of China which, from the Olympics to F1 via the world basketball or athletics championships, has established itself for two decades as a major host of world sport. No major international event has been organized in the country since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the notable exception of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in February and March 2022 in Beijing.

The Asian Games usually attract more than 10,000 athletes from across the continent. Hangzhou has 12 million inhabitants. It will become the third Chinese city to host the event, after Beijing in 1990 and Canton (south) in 2010. When the new dates were announced on Tuesday, the organizing committee promised a “splendid” sporting and cultural celebration.

Sanitary bubble

However, the Chinese authorities remain concerned to avoid any importation of new cases of Covid-19 and the organization of a major international sporting event represents a challenge in this regard. China had successfully organized the Olympic and Paralympic Games thanks in particular to a health bubble which completely isolated the participants (athletes, volunteers, staff, cooks, drivers, delegations, journalists) from the rest of the population.

In the end, very few cases were identified and the model applied during the Olympic Games could be repeated during the Asian Games. China stresses that an easing of restrictions against the Covid-19 is not desirable at the moment, given the low rate of vaccination of the elderly and the insufficient medical resources.

The epidemic outbreak that affected the Asian giant from March 2022 has clearly declined in recent months, even if the number of cases has tended to rebound in recent days. The Ministry of Health announced some 700 new local positive cases on Tuesday over the past 24 hours. Several million people are confined to certain places to prevent further spread of the virus.

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