China has pulled out of hosting next year's Asian Cup due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Football Confederation said Saturday.
"Following extensive discussions with the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the AFC has been officially informed by the CFA that it would not be able to host the AFC Asian Cup," a statement read.
The 24-team competition was to be hosted across 10 Chinese cities from June 16 to July 16. The AFC said the new hosts will be selected in due course.
Japan have won the quadrennial tournament a record four times, the last time in 2011. They were runners-up in 2019 in the United Arab Emirates after losing the final 3-1 to this year's World Cup hosts Qatar.
China has experienced a surge in coronavirus cases in the past months. It has already relinquished the right to host July's East Asian Football Federation E-1 Championship finals, which have now moved to Japan.
The Asian Games, originally scheduled for September in Hangzhou, China, were postponed this month due to the pandemic.