Asian Youth Games in China postponed to 2022 owing to virus; Japan drops 2021 Club World Cup

The Games were due to be held in Shantou city in China's southern Guangdong province in November. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING/TOKYO (REUTERS, AFP) - The Asian Youth Games, organised by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), have been postponed to December 2022 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the local authorities said on Wednesday (Sept 8).

The Games were due to be held in Shantou city in China's southern Guangdong province in November.

The move is to "ensure the safety and health of athletes and all participants", a Shantou government department in charge of sports affairs said on Chinese social media, citing an announcement from the OCA.

The statement did not offer details on the reasons behind the delay, but said the decision came after in-depth discussions among the Olympic Council of Asia, the Chinese Olympic Committee and the local committee responsible for organising the Games.

In another move that showed the coronavirus' continued impact, Japan will not host the Fifa Club World Cup later this year because of virus restrictions that could cap spectator numbers, a report said on Wednesday.

The annual football tournament, at which the champions from the six global confederations compete along with the host nation's top team, was due to be held there in December.

But the Japan Football Association (JFA) has decided to give up its right to host the cup, Kyodo news agency said.

"The risk of increasing infections and difficulty in turning a profit due to a likely cap on spectators swayed the decision," Kyodo said, citing anonymous sources.

The JFA is in discussions with FIFA, which may push back the Club World Cup to early next year, the report said.

Regarding the Winter Olympics, Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng said on Friday (Sept 3) that officials should make sure that the event to be held in China in February next year will take place, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The pandemic is a significant challenge to hosting the event, and virus control strategies should be targeted and scientific, he said.

The Chinese leg of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating, originally scheduled from Nov 4 to 7 in the south-western city of Chongqing, has been cancelled due to restrictions related to pandemic, the International Skating Union (ISU) said last month.

Regarding the Club World Cup, a Fifa spokesman told AFP: "Details of the next Fifa Club World Cup will be confirmed in due course."

The event was last held in Japan in 2016, and the JFA had planned to host the 2021 edition as part of its 100th anniversary celebrations, Kyodo said.

The tournament usually takes place in December, but the 2020 event in Qatar was postponed to February 2021 because of the pandemic, with Bayern Munich the winners.

Japan has battled a record fifth wave of virus cases driven by the more infectious Delta variant this summer, even as the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics went ahead under strict virus restrictions.

Much of the country is currently under anti-infection measures that limit the number of spectators at sports events.

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