KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: After China’s decision to not host the 2023 Asian Cup, a choice for a new host will be made by the Asian Football Confederation’s executive committee.
This week, the AFC’s congress voted to approve a proposal allowing the decision-making body to appoint the replacement for China, which withdrew from hosting the competition in June and July 2023 due to its efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic under a zero-COVID policy.
Delegates at the congress, which was held online and chaired from Bahrain by AFC general secretary Windsor John, voted overwhelmingly to give up their right to decide on a replacement host.
The executive committee’s proposal stipulating that the AFC congress should no longer take the final decision was passed with 42 out of 45 members voting in favor.
The confederation’s administration will instead define the terms and requirements of the bidding process to find a replacement host, and submit a report to the executive committee to make a final decision.
The Japan Football Association has said it has been informally approached about replacing China as hosts.
Without giving further details, Japan Football Association chairman Kozo Tashima told Nikkan Sports, “We were sounded out. If Japan was able to host, there’s no question that it would be pretty exciting.”
Other potential hosts, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Australia and South Korea, would need the tournament moved back to late 2023 or early 2024.
A South Korea official who declined to be named said they had a “briefing” after hearing that China relinquished the hosting rights to the tournament, but they agreed there was not enough time to deliver a world-class tournament in South Korea.
“When we applied for the 2023 Asian Cup years back, we had quite some time, but this Asian Cup is happening just next year and this cannot be just happening in a top-down way,” the official said.