China has withdrawn as the 2023 Asian Cup host due to the coronavirus, football officials said Saturday, as the country battles its worst outbreak since the early days of the pandemic.
The 24-team competition was due to be played across 10 Chinese cities in June and July next year.
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But the Asian Football Confederation said it had been “officially informed by the (Chinese Football Association) that it would not be able to host” the tournament.
“The AFC acknowledges the exceptional circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the relinquishment by (China) of its hosting rights,” the governing body said in a statement.
The AFC did not name a new host, saying only that “further steps” would be announced in due course.
China is pursuing a strategy of stamping out the virus entirely, which includes rapid lockdowns and mass testing.
Its largest city Shanghai has been under a tough lockdown affecting most of its 25 million people for over a month.