China relinquished its right to host soccer's 2023 Asian Cup on Saturday in the latest cancellation of the country's sports hosting duties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Asian Football Confederation praised Chinese soccer officials for making “this very difficult but necessary decision in the collective interests of the AFC Asian Cup.”
The 24-nation tournament was due to be played in 10 cities in mostly newly built stadiums in June and July of next year.
The four-yearly Asian Cup is traditionally played in January and February. Qatar (2011) and Australia (2015) hosted the tournament when it was played in January, while the 2019 event in the United Arab Emirates was held from Jan. 5 to Feb. 1.
China was due to host the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou in September but that was postponed along with nearly all international sports events in the country. China did host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing though under a strict lockdown for athletes and officials with few fans able to attend.