Asian Games in China postponed, along with more international sports events

2022 Asian Games Hangzhou

The Asian Games, World University Games and two Diamond League track and field meets, all in China, will not occur as scheduled this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Asian Games, which were scheduled for Sept. 10-25 in Hangzhou, are a quadrennial multi-sport competition for Asian nations including about 10,000 athletes, a similar number to the Summer Olympics.

For many athletes, the Asian Games carry greater importance than their individual sport’s world championships.

Asian Games organizers were “very well prepared to deliver the Games on time despite global challenges,” according to an Olympic Council of Asia press release. The postponement came after “carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the Games.”

New dates will be announced in the near future, organizers said.

The World University Games, a biennial multi-sport competition for student-athletes due to be held in Chengdu from June 26-July 7, were postponed for a second consecutive year. The event will be held on to-be-announced dates in 2023.

“The decision to reschedule Chengdu 2021 is not one that was made easily, but it is the right decision for university athletes,” International University Sports Federation president Leonz Eder said in a release. “Their welfare is always our number one priority. Continued uncertainty over conditions has made rescheduling the sensible choice — a number of National University Sports Federations had already changed their plans.”

Before this second postponement, some nations, including Great Britain and Canada, announced they would not send teams, citing multiple reasons including health and safety during the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

The World University Games feature more than 5,000 athletes across many Olympic sports and some non-Olympic events, such as wushu for the Chengdu edition.

The Diamond League, track and field’s top-level international circuit, announced its two China meets on July 30 and Aug. 6 in Shanghai and Shenzhen will not take place “due to travel restrictions and strict quarantine requirements currently in place for entry into China.”

A substitute meet will be held in Chorzow, Poland on Aug. 6.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine

Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”