Chinese city Hangzhou will remain the host of the 19th Asian Games to be held later this year but was postponed, organisers said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Games will now be held in Hangzhou from September 23 to October 8 2023, the Olympic Council of Asia said.

The Asian Games were originally planned to be held in Hangzhou from 10th to 25th of September 2022, however due to the Covid-19 global pandemic the Games were postponed by the OCA Executive Board on 6 May.

The statement from OCA said, “A Task Force was created by the EB to finalise the new dates for the Games which over the last two months held various discussions with the Chinese Olympic Committee, Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee and other stakeholders to find a window for the Games which did not conflict with other major international sporting events. The recommended dates by the Task Force were duly approved by the OCA EB.”

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Organisers said in April that Hangzhou, a city of 12 million in eastern China, had finished constructing 56 competition venues for the Asian Games and Asian Para Games.

Hangzhou will be the third city in China to host the continental competition after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010.

Some events are also expected to be held in other provincial cities including Ningbo, Wenzhou, Huzhou, Shaoxing and Jinhua.

Almost all international sport has ground to a halt in China since Covid emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The Beijing Olympics was an exception but was held in a “closed loop” with everyone inside it – including athletes, staff, volunteers and media – taking daily Covid tests and not allowed to venture into the wider city or have contact with the public.

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

Covid restrictions around the country eased slightly this summer as case numbers from the earlier Omicron-driven outbreak dwindled.

But a rising wave of fresh infections this month have led to new restrictions in parts of the country, with millions of people receiving orders to stay home over the weekend.

While the statement from organisers said that an effort was made to avoid clashes with major events, wrestlers will have to disagree. UWW’s Wrestling World Championships is scheduled to be from September 16-24 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia and the event has Olympic quotas at stake.

“The World Championship will be an Olympic qualifying event so how can UWW (world governing body for the sport) agree to this. These events should have a good gap. UWW may have to modify the dates of the World Championships,” WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar told PTI.

With AFP inputs