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Asian World Cup qualifiers postponed due to coronavirus

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    Agence France-Presse

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   /   Fri, February 19, 2021   /   04:13 pm
 Asian World Cup qualifiers postponed due to coronavirus A file photo taken on Dec. 17, 2019 shows a view inside Qatar's new al-Bayt Stadium in the capital Doha, which will host matches of the FIFA football World Cup 2022. (AFP/Giuseppe Cacace )

Most remaining games in the second round of Asian qualifying for the 2022 Qatar World Cup will be postponed to June because of coronavirus disruptions, officials said Friday. 

Dozens of nations across eight groups in the current round of qualifying were supposed to resume their campaigns in March after the pandemic delayed matches slated for last year.

But the Asian Football Confederation said it was now inviting bids from member associations to host their respective groups in a centralised format in the June international window.

It blamed "existing travel and quarantine restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic". 

As well as hosts Qatar, Asia has four guaranteed spots at the World Cup finals. 

Also delayed due to COVID-19 are three Asian badminton tournaments have been delayed indefinitely while two others have been shifted to new dates due to coronavirus-related disruptions, officials said Friday.

The Malaysia Masters, the Indonesia Masters and Indonesia Open have been postponed with no new dates yet set, said the Badminton World Federation.

The Malaysia Open, previously due to take place from late March to early April, has been shifted to May 25 to 30. 

The Singapore Open, previously scheduled for April, will now happen from June 1-6. 

The Olympic qualifying period for the Tokyo Games will now close on June 15, with the last tournament counting for qualification being the Singapore Open.

The 2020 badminton calendar was thrown into chaos due to the virus. 

Three tournaments took place in consecutive weeks in Bangkok in January, in a bid to kick-start the world tour.