The Asian Cup, which was set to be played in China in 2023, will now be hosted in Qatar in 2024, the Asian Confederation (AFC) announced on Monday. Qatar could have hosted the tournament in mid-2023 but they have decided to move it to early 2024 in order to avoid the heat of the summer in the Gulf region.
The right to host the championship was awarded to China in 2019 but the nation gave it up as it pursued a zero-COVID policy in order to eradicate the virus completely from its boundaries.
As a result, the bidding process for the tournament was reopened and the AFC, in an executive committee meeting on Monday, preferred Qatar to bids from Indonesia and South Korea.
“Qatar’s capabilities and track record in hosting major international sporting events and their meticulous attention to detail are well admired throughout the globe,” Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the AFC President, said in a statement.
“With their existing world-class infrastructure and unrivaled hosting capabilities, we are confident that Qatar will stage a worthy spectacle befitting the prestige and stature of Asia’s crown jewel.”
According to reports, the Qatar Football Association (QFA) has proposed to shift the 24-team tournament to January 24, 2024. The event is supposed to run for a month.
The Gulf Arab state has the experience of hosting the Asian Cup twice in 1988 and 2011. They also won the trophy in 2019 when the tournament was played in the UAE. The prestigious tournament is held in the space of every four years.
South Korea was initially the front-runner to host the tournament after China relinquished the rights. They hadn’t hosted the finals since 1960 when they won their second title. But Qatar walked away with the rights ultimately owing to their financial muscle.
“We thought that we had no problem in hosting the event,” the KFA said in a statement.
“But we had to face fierce competition as Qatar jumped into the race with rich financial, human, and material resources.”
As per reports, Qatar is also bidding to host the 2027 Asian Cup and the AFC executive committee has even shortlisted the bids from India and Saudi Arabia for the 2027 edition.