China will not host the AFC Asian Cup final round next year in view of the surging COVID-19 cases in the country, the continent’s football governing body said on Saturday.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said it has been officially informed by the Chinese association that it would not be able to host the continental showpiece next year.
“Following extensive discussions with the Chinese Football Association, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has been officially informed by the CFA that it would not be able to host the AFC Asian Cup 2023,” the AFC said in a statement.
China were named as hosts of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup in June 2019, at the AFC Extraordinary Congress in Paris. The 24-team competition was to be hosted across 10 Chinese cities from June 16 to July 16 next year.
“The AFC acknowledges the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the relinquishment by China PR of its hosting rights,” the AFC said.
The Indian team is vying for a place in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup and will feature in the final qualifying round to be held in Kolkata next month.
The AFC said it worked closely with the CFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) during the preparations and several milestones were achieved, including the launch of the tournament logo and the unveiling of the newly completed Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium last year.
“The AFC appreciates that China PR, the CFA and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 LOC have made this very difficult but necessary decision in the collective interests…which has also provided the AFC the required time to assess the situation regarding the hosting of the AFC Asian Cup 2023.”
The AFC said it will continue to work closely with its commercial partners and stakeholders to chart out the future course of action.