July 18 – South Korea, Indonesia, Qatar and Australia have all expressed interest in hosting the 2023 Asian Cup, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has confirmed. China withdrew as hosts because of their zero Covid-19 policy.
The four nations will have until the end of August to submit bid documents, with the AFC to announce a new host on October 17.
“In accordance with the bidding process, the bidding regulations were distributed to the MAs on June 17, 2022, and the deadline for bidding MAs to submit the Bid documents is set for August 31, 2022,” said the AFC.
The Chinese had been due to stage next year’s continental championship but pulled out due to the government’s coronavirus policies. The decision left the AFC scrambling to find a suitable host for their flagship tournament, which was expanded to 24 teams for the first time in 2019. The timeline does not make the host decision any easier, with little time for the host nation to ensure tournament operations.
Australia favour hosting the tournament in early 2024 because they co-host the Women’s World Cup next summer. The Australians have also bid for the 2026 Women’s Asian Cup. Moving the tournament to 2024, however, will leave a substantial gap in the calendar.
Having hosted the finals in 1988 and 2011, Qatar are the hosts of this year’s World Cup. The Qatari have all the infrastructure required to stage the competition, but organising the Asian Cup in the West Zone could be sensitive after the UAE hosted the last finals and both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are strong contenders in the bidding race for the 2027 competition.
Similarly there is the issue of when the tournament would be played because of the extreme heat of the Qatari summer – the reason the World Cup 2022 was moved from July to its November/December slot this year.
That leaves South Korea and Indonesia.
The Indonesians were part of the 2007 event when they staged the tournament alongside Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. South Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, but has not staged a major tournament since. They were hosts in 1960 when they won the competition on home soil.
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