Asian Games 2022 Postponed Amid Rising Covid-19 Cases and Lockdowns In China

May 6, 2022

“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 the Chinese state media.

The host city of Hangzhou lies less than 200 kilometers (120 miles) from 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. Millions of residents in Shanghai have been under strict lockdown for more than a month.

An empty road in Pudong district after Shanghai imposed a citywide lockdown to halt the spread of Covid-19
Photograph: VCG/Getty Images

Organizers 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.

Big Lotus Stadium, Hangzhou, China.

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 strict 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.

China has stubbornly stuck to a zero-Covid policy, imposing strict lockdowns, quarantines, and mass testing programs even while other countries start to reopen as the threat of the pandemic recedes.

Workers prepare to disinfect a residential compound in Huangpu district
Photograph: China Daily/Reuters

The government has touted the strategy as proof that it values human life above material concerns and can avert the public health crises seen in many Western countries.

Top leaders on Thursday again vowed to “unwaveringly adhere” to zero-Covid and “resolutely fight against” criticism of the policy despite a growing public outcry against the measures.