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China’s withdrawal as host of the 2023 Asian Cup leaves netizens wondering, “Will these newly built stadiums become Covid quarantine hubs instead?” These are the ten stages which not be used for next year’s Asian Cup.

NOTThe news that China will no longer host the 2023 Asian Cup due to the Covid situation has left Chinese netizens wondering what will happen to the mega venues built specifically for the event.

On Saturday May 14, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) issued a statement stating that following lengthy discussions with the Chinese Football Association (CFA), it had been informed by the CFA that it would not be able to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. due to the circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event was scheduled to take place from June 16 to July 16, 2023 in ten Chinese cities: Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Dalian, Qingdao, Xiamen and Suzhou.

On Weibo, a popular article listed ten stadiums that have been renovated or newly built to host the 2023 Asian Cup, adding the alleged (mind-blowing) construction/renovation costs.

1. Xiamen Bailu Stadium: costs 3.5 billion [$515.5 million].
2. Qingdao Youth Football Stadium: costs 3.2 billion [$470 million].
3. Chongqing Longxing Stadium: costs 2.7 billion [$397.7 million].
4. Xi’an International Football Center: costs 2.395 billion [$352.7 million].
5. Dalian Suoyuwan Football Stadium: costs 1.88 billion [$277 million].
6. Chengdu Phoenix Hill Stadium: costs 1.865 billion [$274.7 million].
7. SAIC Motor Pudong Arena: costs 1.807 billion [$266 million].
8. Suzhou Kunshan Football Stadium: Costs 1.6 billion [$235.6 million].
9. Tianjin Binhai Football Stadium: the renovation cost 320 million [$47 million].
10. New Gongti Stadium in Beijing: the renovation cost 280 million [$41.2 million].

All of these stadiums were built or renovated for the Asian Cup on a tight schedule, as there was only a three-year lead time from design to completion of construction. In the summer of 2019, it was confirmed that China would host the Asian Cup.

Now that these venues will no longer be used for the Asian Cup, many netizens are wondering what will happen to them.

One of the most popular answers to this question was, “Maybe they should be turned into makeshift hospitals [fangcang].”

Fangcang, China’s makeshift “square cabin” hospitals, are seen as a key solution in China’s fight against the virus. With mass testing and local lockdowns, Fangcang has become an important phenomenon in China’s dynamic zero-Covid policy.

Since every city needs quarantine places to prepare for a possible local outbreak, many people half-joke that the sites would be more useful as Covid isolation points if they are not in use anyway for the Asian Cup.

“So many big stadiums, what a waste,” write some commentators, with others suggesting stadiums should be open for people to use and enjoy.

In response to China’s withdrawal as host of the 2023 Asian Cup, another popular comment said, “China has taken the lead in reaching Zero in major sporting events”, jokingly referring to the country’s Zero-Covid policy which is currently impacting all aspects of society.

For others, the announcement that China would not host the Asian Cup came as a shock. Not necessarily because of the cancellation of the event itself, but because it made them realize that China’s strict measures and the Zero-Covid policy should continue until 2023: “How is did we get there? I thought the country would open up after the general assembly,” one person wrote, referring to the National Communist Party Congress which is scheduled for fall 2022.

Another Weibo user wrote, “They finally said it. The Asian Cup will be hosted by another country because our strong country will continue to remain closed, the money spent on building all these venues is going to be wasted.

“The point many people missed is that the Asian Cup is no longer held in China because China refuses to hold the event in ‘fully open mode’ as requested by foreign countries,” wrote another commentator. Some people hailed the decision, calling it “courageous” for China to persist in handling the pandemic in its own way.

Others hope that all the money spent on the venues will not be wasted and that China can use these venues to host the World Cup in the future.

Below is the list of ten new venues where the Asian Cup will not take place.

1. Xiamen Bailu Stadium (厦门白鹭体育场)

Bailu Stadium in Xiamen is an impressive construction with a steel structure similar to Beijing’s Bird’s Nest and like most of the stadiums on this list, it was designed especially for the 2023 Asian Cup.

Scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022, the building not only offers a beautiful sea view, it is also fully multifunctional and has a floor area of ​​180,600 square meters and a capacity of 60,000 seats. It is the first professional football stadium in China that can change from a football field to a sports field. The inner and outer circles of the seating area can be moved around to transform the stadium.

2. Qingdao Youth Football Stadium (青岛青春足球场)

Qingdao Youth Football Stadium, a high-level football stadium with a capacity of 50,000, is the first major professional football stadium in Shandong Province.

The stadium, located in the city’s Chengyang district, began construction in 2020, and the entire stadium with an area of ​​163,395 square meters is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

3. Chongqing Longxing Stadium (重庆龙兴体育场)

Like most of the other stadiums on this list, Chongqing Longxing Stadium started construction in 2020, and the 60,000 capacity football stadium is expected to be completed in December 2022.

The design of the stadium is based on a twirling flame, intended to convey the hot image of Chongqing (the hotpot city) and the burning passion of Asian Cup football. Aerial photos released by state media in March 2022 show that construction of the roof and decorations has reached the final stage.

4. Xi’an International Football Center (西安国际足球中心)

The Xi’an International Football Center is a project by Zaha Hadid, which is the same architectural firm to design prestigious buildings in China such as Beijing Daxing International Airport or the Galaxy SOHO.

On their site, they write that the football center, the construction of which began in 2020, is a 60,000-seater stadium in the new district of Xi’ans Fengdong. Besides the arena, the stadium will also provide recreational spaces for the city.

5. Dalian Suoyuwan Football Stadium (大连梭鱼湾足球场)

Located on Dalian Bay, this is a spectacular new 63,000-seater stadium which was obviously set to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2023 and be home to Dalian Professional Football Club.

An animation of the Dalian Football Stadium design can be viewed here.

6. Chengdu Phoenix Hill Stadium (成都凤凰山体育场)

Chengdu Phoenix Hill Stadium consists of a 60,000-seat stadium and an 18,000-seat standard arena. The large open-cable dome structure is said to be the first of its kind in China.

Besides football, the site will also be able to host other major tournaments, including ice hockey, badminton, table tennis, handball and gymnastics.

7. SAIC Motor Pudong Arena (上汽浦东足球场)

Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium, currently named SAIC Motor Pudong Arena, was supposed to be one of the stadiums used for the AFC Asian Cup, but it was not necessarily built for this purpose.

The 33,765-seater stadium, which is supposed to remind you of a Chinese porcelain bowl, is home to football association Shanghai Port FC and was the first club-designated dedicated football stadium in China. Its construction, started in 2018, was completed at the end of 2020.

8. Suzhou Kunshan Football Stadium (苏州昆山足球场)

Suzhou Kunshan Football Stadium is Jiangsu’s first professional football stadium. With a total construction area of ​​135,000 square meters, the stadium can accommodate around 45,000 spectators.

The design of the building is inspired by the traditional Chinese “folding fan”. Other photos of the place can be seen here.

9. Tianjin Binhai Football Stadium (天津滨海足球场)

The TEDA Football Stadium in Tianjin has been completely renovated and upgraded to host the 2023 Asian Cup. The stadium, built in 2004, originally accommodated 37,450 people. Renovations to the original stadium began this year and the construction work was expected to take around six months.

ten . Beijing New Gongti Stadium (新北京工体)

The former Beijing Workers’ Stadium or Gongti was closed in 2020 to be renovated and reopened in December 2022, in time for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. The Pekingese reported on the venue’s renovation process, with the stadium’s capacity increasing to 68,000, with the venue benefiting from an all-new roof structure.

For more articles on Covid-19 related topics on Chinese social media, click here.

For more articles on hot topics related to architecture in China, click here.

By Manya Koetse

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