Beijing, May 6 (EFE).- China decided Friday to postpone the 2022 Asian Games, which were scheduled to be held between Sep. 10 to 25 in the southeastern city of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, state television CCTV reported.
The Director General of Olympic Council of Asia Husain Al-Musallam announced the postponement of the Games and said that a new date will be announced very soon.
In a statement on its website, the council said that the decision was “taken by all the stakeholders after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the Games.”
The suspension of the event comes amid a coronavirus outbreak in China driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant of the virus.
Record infections not seen since the start of the pandemic are being registered in the country, to which the government has responded with its usual strategy.
This includes strict restrictions on movement, closure of the country’s borders and lockdowns of entire cities, as in the case of Shanghai, located about 160 kilometers from Hangzhou.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that the measures being taken to stop Covid-19 outbreaks in Shanghai will withstand “the test of time” and urged the country’s leadership to fight attempts to “distort, question or challenge” them.
As most countries have begun a new phase of living with the virus, Chinese authorities have stuck to their “zero Covid-19” strategy under the argument of protecting the elderly population, a high percentage of which is not vaccinated, or preventing a possible collapse of the healthcare system.
However, unlike the previous two years, the harsh measures imposed to contain the outbreaks this time around – especially in Shanghai – has sparked an unprecedented critical reaction from the public.
This has generated complaints and protests on social media, which despite censorship have been leaked to platforms abroad.
Beijing held the Winter Olympics in February, when the omicron variant had not yet spread across Asia, albeit without spectators.
Foreign athletes, delegations and journalists from abroad were kept in a closed-loop Olympic bubble with no contact with the local population.
Since the start of the pandemic, China has officially recorded 218,945 infections and 5,153 deaths from the disease. EFE