Qualifying matches in Asia for the 2022 Qatar World Cup have been postponed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, world governing body FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation said in a statement on Wednesday.
The second round of Asian qualifiers were originally scheduled to take place during the international windows in October and November but they would not go ahead due to the "COVID-19 situation in many countries".
It marks the second time the qualifiers, which also serve as the road to the 2023 Asian Cup in China, have been pushed back as matches in March and June were also postponed due to the pandemic.
"With the aim of protecting the health and safety of all participants, FIFA and the AFC will continue to work together to closely monitor the situation in the region and to identify new dates for the respective qualifying matches," the statement said.
"Further details on the new dates for the next round of qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup 2023 will be announced in due course."
The AFC also suspended its elite club competition, the Asian Champions League (ACL), in early March because of the virus.
Qatar will be the regional hub for matches in West Asia when the ACL resumes on Sept. 14. Malaysia was named the centralized hub in East Asia with matches in the region due to restart in October.