China is withdrawing as host of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, according to an announcement by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Chinese fans worry that the move indicates that lockdowns to contain COVID-19 will continue through 2023.
Huge Investment WastedChina was appointed as host of the Asian Cup on June 5, 2019, and the 24-team competition was to be held in 10 cities across China from June 16 to July 16, 2023.
The Chinese media also acknowledged that without the leadership’s approval, the step-back would not have occurred.
Propaganda Targets the AFCFollowing the announcement, the Chinese media echoed the Chinese organizer’s decision and reasoned that canceling the 2023 Asian Cup in China was a wise choice. It will relieve the extra burden on the governments of the 10 hosting cities in their pandemic containment efforts, despite the huge cost of the investments already made. It also criticized AFC’s unreasonable demand of a “fully open model” in hosting cities.
According to the original plan, the tournament was to be held at facitlities in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Suzhou, Xiamen, Xi'an, Chengdu, and Chongqing.
Seeing Shanghai residents struggling to survive through starvation and mental breakdowns since the authorities imposed a severe containment policy on March 27, many Chinese netizens reacted with grave concern: Does that mean Beijing will insist on zero-COVID through next summer?