The tournament was supposed to showcase a new soccer stadium in Shanghai — the city at the epicenter of the country’s current outbreak that has been under lockdown for seven weeks. Throughout April, residents stuck at home in the financial capital reported being unable to access food, medicine or other essential supplies.
In onlangse dae, complaints have surfaced on social media over community workers forcibly entering people’s homes without permission and damaging their personal belongings during disinfection. One viral video showed residents arguing with police officers trying to take them from their homes; it’s unclear under what policy the residents were being forcibly removed, or where they were being sent.
Ten minste 31 Chinese cities are now under full or partial lockdown, impacting up to 182 miljoen mense, according to CNN’s calculations.
China’s withdrawal brings an added sting, given authorities have spent years — and tens of millions of dollars — trying to boost its soccer program. That became a national priority after the embarrassment of 2002 — the only time China has qualified for the FIFA World Cup, but where the team failed to score a single goal.
In 2016, China unveiled a blueprint to transform the country into a global “soccer powerhouse,” with ambitious goals including the creation of 20,000 soccer schools and 70,000 staanplekke.
The AFC said a new host for the tournament would be revealed in due course.