The upcoming Hangzhou Asian Games in China was postponed by the Olympic Council of Asia on Friday with the new date yet to be revealed according to Chinese media report. The Asian Games were originally scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, from September 10 to 25. The multi-sport event, which is organised every four years, has come under the scanner due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country.
Shanghai entered a sudden lockdown back in late March with restrictions remaining in force across large parts of the city. A part of the Asian Games was scheduled to be held in in the capital of Zhejiang province, which is around 175 kilometres southwest of Shanghai.
China haven't provided any official reason for the postponement of the Games but reports have stated that the decision was taken due to the country's strict zero-Covid policy after experiencing a huge surge in infections in recent months.
Olympic Council of Asia has issued a statement which said," Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC) has been very well prepared to deliver the Games on time despite global challenges. However, the above decision was taken by all the stakeholders after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the Games".
The statement further read, "The name and the emblem of the 19th Asian Games will remain unchanged, and the OCA believes that the Games will achieve complete success through the joint efforts of all parties. Additionally, the OCA EB also studied the situation of the 3rd Asian Youth Games, which was scheduled on 20-28 December this year in Shantou, China. After discussion with the COC and the Organising Committee, the OCA EB decided that as the Asian Youth Games had already been postponed once, the Asian Youth Games Shantou 2021 will be cancelled. The next Asian Youth Games will therefore be held in 2025 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan".
"The postponement of any big event or Games is a disappointment for the athletes. They become older by some months or one year whatever is the case when the Games are rescheduled," Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Rajeev Mehta told PTI. "Many of our athletes had already started training and preparations for the Asian Games, and IOA feels for them. The postponement was on expected lines due to COVID-19 but this was not in our hands."
Indian men's hockey team goalkeeper P R Sreejesh is of the view that the postponement of the Asian Games is a 'disappointment' but it gives them more time to prepare.
"It's a disappointment but somewhere down the line we were expecting it considering the situation in China. But we want to look at it from a positive point of view because we will get more time to prepare for the Asian Games," Sreejesh told PTI.
"We already have the experience of playing in a postponed Games (Tokyo Olympics), so we know what it takes to remain in the shape." "The positive part is that there are plenty of tournaments lined up for us, like the Asia Cup, Pro League matches in Belgium, Commonwealth Games and World Cup next year. The dates of the postponed Asian Games are yet to be announced so we will get enough time to prepare our best for the Asian Games."
Meanwhile, All India Tennis Association (AITA) said the postponement actually suits them since the Asian Games and Davis Cup tie against Norway won't clash now. "It's good for us. Our players won't be under pressure to play two big events in space of seven days. We can send best teams to both events. We can concentrate on Davis Cup first and then prepare," said AITA Secretary General Anil Dhupar.
Meanwhile, India's Olympic-bound swimmer Sajan Prakash admitted he will now have pull back the drawing board and plan for another year. "It affects me in the way that I now have to keep up with another year of competitions, one more extra year."