Asian Cup outside China

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China has apologized for not hosting the 2023 Asian Cup due to the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, the continental federation announced on Saturday, at a time when the country is grappling with the worst outbreak of the Coronavirus since the outbreak began.

The tournament was scheduled to be held in 10 Chinese cities from June 16 to July 16, 2023, with the participation of 24 teams, after China was chosen to host on June 5, 2019 during the extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly in Paris.

The Confederation said in a statement: “After extensive consultations with the Chinese Football Association, the latter informed the AFC of its inability to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Final, adding that the next steps related to hosting will be announced in due course.”

China is finally facing a new wave of infections with the Covid-19 virus, which has led to the closure of many cities and the confinement of millions of residents in their homes.

The Asian Cup is added to a series of events in China that faced cancellation or postponement, most notably the “Hangju 2022” Asian Games, which were scheduled in September, 200 km from Shanghai, which was affected by the pandemic.

The AFC added that it took into account the exceptional circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to China waiving the hosting rights, adding that it “worked closely with the Chinese Football Association and the Local Organizing Committee for the 2023 Asian Cup in China, during the period In preparation, important steps have been taken, including the launch of the tournament logo and the unveiling last year of the completion of construction work on the new Shanghai Bandung Stadium.”

While the Confederation expressed its “appreciation to China”, it described the decision as “difficult but necessary for the common interests of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, as the AFC will have enough time to assess the situation regarding hosting the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.”

The teams of China (being the former host), Japan, Syria, Qatar, South Korea, Australia, Iran, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Vietnam and Lebanon, have qualified for the tournament, in which 24 teams participate, while it is scheduled to complete the third round qualifiers between June 8 and 14, according to the pool system.

Japan holds the record for the number of titles (4) against Saudi Arabia and Iran (3), while Qatar won the first title in its history in 2019 in the UAE.

Source: AFP