By Xinhua sportswriters Xiao Shiyao and Gong Bing
BEIJING, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- As the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup Local Organising Committee was officially established in Beijing on Thursday, the committee executive chairman Du Zhaocai, voiced his confidence in hosting an excellent tournament, which could boost football development in China.
Du, who is the vice director of China's State General Administration of Sport, noted that all preparatory work is on track despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2023 Asian Cup will leave an immense legacy for the country to host higher-level international football events in the future.
PREPARATIONS ON TRACK
"Since China was awarded the hosting right of 2023 AFC Asian Cup on June 4 last year, we have put great efforts into preparations for the tournament," Du told Xinhua.
"Although we hosted our first Asian Cup in 2004, its 2023 edition is completely different as it is the first time that the tournament will be held in 10 cities," Du said. "The COVID-19 pandemic made our challenge even harder."
"The construction work of 10 professional football stadiums can't be delayed. We made a very detailed epidemic prevention plan to guide the cities to resume construction. In Chengdu and Shanghai, workers went back to the construction sites in February," he added.
According to the committee, the design schemes of nine stadiums have been confirmed by the AFC while the renovation plan for Beijing's Workers Stadiums has also been submitted to the AFC. Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium has been put into service and will make its debut on October 31.
Du revealed the 10 stadiums will apply 5G, Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence and many other high-tech products. "All the modern facilities will help spectators enjoy the football matches in a better way."
After the establishment of the local organising committee, Du said the next phase of preparatory work is to help the host cities set up their own offices and build an effective communication mechanism to link the AFC with host cities and the committee. "All 10 host cities are very enthusiastic for the Asian Cup and are very capable of hosting it."
The Chinese Football Association vice-president also emphasized the committee's ambition to develop football in China through the Asian football showpiece. "We will launch projects to connect the Asian Cup with youth football and grassroots football in China and therefore expand the influence of the sport in our country."
"Detailed match schedules, security and reception plans, as well as marketing projects are all moving forward as planned," Du said.
LEGACY FOR ALL
"It will not only promote the development of Chinese football in all levels, but also stimulate the football industry and economy in the host cities," Du added, speaking highly of the significance for China to host the 2023 Asian Cup.
"The tournament is also an opportunity for people to know more about China," He added. "The transportation between the host cities will mainly be carried by our developed high-speed railway system, so the players and fans can have a direct look at China's development."
The FIFA council member believes the 2023 Asian Cup will leave a legacy both on and off the pitch for China to host other international football events in the future.
"After the Asian Cup, we will have ten professional football stadiums, which are all modern venues with advanced technology," he said. "We also plan to cooperate with the AFC and FIFA to cultivate our staff. They will become experienced experts for international football events."
"These will lay a solid foundation for us to host any world-level football tournament," he noted.
"After reviewing our preliminary report, AFC president Sheikh Salman told me that he has faith that the 2023 Asian Cup will go beyond people's expectations," Du said.
"We have the confidence to host an excellent and safe Asian Cup for all." Enditem