BREAKING NEWS - Asian Games 2022 postponed

China : The Asian Games due to take place in Hangzhou in September have been postponed indefinitely, organisers said on Friday, as China battles a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

No reason was given for the delay, but China is racing to extinguish its largest outbreak of Covid-19 since the early days of the pandemic.

"The Olympic Council of Asia has announced that the 19th Asian Games, originally scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China from September 10 to 25, 2022, will be postponed," said a statement on the official Games website, first posted on Chinese state media.

The new dates for the sporting contest "will be announced at a later date", the statement added.

The host city of Hangzhou lies near the country's biggest city, Shanghai, which has endured a weeks-long lockdown as part of the ruling Communist Party's zero-tolerance approach to the virus.

Organisers said last month that Hangzhou, a city of 12 million in eastern China, had finished constructing some 56 competition venues for the Asian Games and Asian Para Games. At the time, they indicated that they planned to hold the events under a virus control plan that "learns from the successful experience" of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which were held in February in a Covid-secure bubble. Hangzhou was poised to become the third city in China to host the continental competition after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010.

Some events were due to be held in other provincial cities including Ningbo, Wenzhou, Huzhou, Shaoxing and Jinhua. Almost all international sport has grind to a halt in China since covid emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The Beijing Olympics was an exception but it was held in a strict "closed loop" with everyone inside it, including athletes, staff, volunteers and media, taking daily covid tests and not allowed to venture into the wider public.