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Asian Games to Go Ahead in Hangzhou: Malaysian Official

This aerial photo taken on April 1, 2022, shows the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, main stadium of the 19th Asian Games, in Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province.

The 2022 Asian Games in China will go ahead, the Olympic Council of Malaysia said Saturday, denying claims that it was facing the possibility of being postponed.

The Olympic-sized event is scheduled to be held in September in Hangzhou, a major metropolitan area less than 200 kilometers southwest of Shanghai.

Shanghai is currently grappling with a major coronavirus emergency, with its roughly 25 million residents currently in a weeks-long lockdown as authorities try to curb an omicron-fueled wave.

An official working with governing body the Olympic Council of Asia, who did not want to be named, had told AFP on Thursday that no decision had been made but there was a possibility of postponement.

However, Olympic Council of Malaysia president Norza Zakaria disputed that.

"The Asian Games 2022 in China is going ahead," he told AFP Saturday. "We have checked with OCA (the Olympic Council of Asia) and the organizing committee."

Most international sports events have been on hold in China since the COVID-19 pandemic, although Beijing hosted the Winter Olympics in a strict bio-bubble in February.

Right after the Olympics ended, Shanghai -- China's biggest city -- witnessed the country's worst COVID outbreak in two years, and its residents have largely been confined to their homes since early April.

All 56 competition venues for the Games in Hangzhou have already been completed, Chinese organizers said this month, promising to publish a virus control plan that takes its cue from the Winter Olympics.

Hangzhou is scheduled to hold the Games from Sept. 10-25, becoming the third Chinese host after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010.