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China withdraws rights to host 2023 Asian Cup finals amid resurgence of Covid-19 cases. See details

Reuters report.

China has withdrawn as the 2023 Asian Cup host due to the coronavirus, football officials said Saturday, with Beijing's strict zero-Covid strategy dealing another blow to the country's sporting ambitions.China has relinquished its rights to host the 2023 Asian Cup finals due to the #COVID19 situation in the country, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announces: Reuters

Authorities in China are pursuing a strategy of stamping out the virus entirely, which includes rapid lockdowns and mass testing, and millions in Shanghai have faced onerous restrictions for over a month, as per AFP report.

But the measures -- now rare globally, as most countries shift to living with Covid -- have made hosting sporting events a major challenge.

The Olympic-sized Asian Games, due to be staged in September in Hangzhou, had already been postponed earlier this month, and on Saturday the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said China would not host the Asian Cup.

Chinese football officials had informed the AFC that they would not be able to host the 24-team competition, which was to be staged in 10 cities in June and July next year.

No new host nation was named. "The AFC acknowledges the exceptional circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the relinquishment by (China) of its hosting rights," the governing body said in a statement.

Those involved in organising the tournament had made "this very difficult but necessary decision in the collective interests of the" tournament, it added.

The Asian Cup is staged every four years. Qatar won the last edition in 2019. It would have been the second time that China had staged the Asian Cup. They hosted it in 2004, when the hosts lost 3-1 to Japan in the

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Donbas region, video from Ukraine’s military showed on Friday, as Moscow appeared to be refocusing its assault in the east after a new pushback by Kyiv.Ukraine has driven Russian troops away from the second-largest city of Kharkiv in the fastest advance since Kremlin forces pulled away from Kyiv and the northeast over a month ago, although Moscow is still bombarding villages north of Kharkiv.The city, which had been under fierce bombardment, has been quiet for at least two weeks and Reuters journalists have confirmed Ukraine now controls territory stretching to the Siverskyi Donets River, around 40 km (25 miles) to the east. Russia aims to take southern Ukraine in Donbas operation, deputy commander says Some 10 km (six miles) north of the city, firefighters doused smoldering wreckage in Dergachi after what local officials said was an overnight Russian missile attack on the House of Culture, used to distribute aid.

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NATO activates chemical, nuclear defence elements amid Russia’s war on Ukraine
NATO has activated its “chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence elements” amid fears Russia could launch a biological strike in Ukraine.Following an emergency summit of the military alliance on Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels the decision comes as the allies move to equip Ukraine with its own biological defences.“Our top military commander … has activated NATO’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence elements,” he said.“And allies are deploying additional chemical and biological and nuclear defences to reinforce our existing and new battlegroups, so we are taking measures both to support Ukraine and also to defend ourselves.” How the war in Ukraine stands a month after Russia’s invasion — and what may be next Stoltenberg made the announcement as part of a slew of new measures taken by the military alliance to boost its presence in eastern Europe amid a growing Russian threat, he said.NATO is sending four new battlegroups to Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, Stoltenberg announced, while promising the allies will further support Ukraine in its fight against Russia as the invasion hit the one-month mark Thursday.However, the West fears Russia, which has yet to make significant ground in Ukraine, could escalate the conflict by using biological weapons. Leaders have expressed their fears over such an attack, but have not provided evidence one is looming.