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HK prepared to waive restrictions to host Asian tournaments

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HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s government is considering on waiving the city’s strict 21-day quarantine requirements in a bid to host soccer matches in the Asian Champions League and other continental club competitions, a local newspaper said on Sunday.

The city’s Home Affairs Bureau “fully backed” a proposal from the Hong Kong Football Association to bid to hold tournaments for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the South China Morning Post reported.

“It’s the right time to send a signal that Hong Kong is ready to resume international mega events in a controlled environment,” the Hong Kong daily quoted an unnamed source as saying.

The mandatory quarantine — one of the strictest in the world — and a travel ban now prevent players and officials from across Asia from travelling to the Chinese city.

Hong Kong is seeking to host games in the Asian Champions League and the AFC Cup, a second-tier club competition, after the AFC requested bids after deciding to play the early phase of the competition in a series of centralized groups due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Last year’s AFC Cup was canceled because of the global health crisis, while the Asian Champions League was played after a series of delays in a biosecure bubble in Doha, with South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai emerging as champions in December. Hong Kong champions Kitchee have qualified for the group phase of this year’s Asian Champions League, while Eastern and Lee Man are due to play in the AFC Cup. — Reuters

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