Chinese President Xi Jinping is doubling down on the zero-COVID policy ©Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping has insisted there will be no alteration to the country's "zero-COVID" policy, which has caused the cancellation or postponement of dozens of sporting events including the Asian Games.

Speaking at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress in Beijing, where Xi is expected to be handed a third term leading the party, Xi defended the policy.

China's approach to the virus has involved lockdowns, mass testing, quarantine periods and travel restrictions even when the majority of the world has been either easing or removing restrictions altogether.

The 69-year-old, who was in charge of preparations for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics and later opened the 2022 Winter Games, insisted that the policy represented a "people's war to stop the spread of the virus" and that saving lives was the priority, although there have been some signs of public frustration.

A rare public protest criticising Xi and zero-COVID policy was staged on Thursday (October 13) in the Chinese capital, where there has been tightening of security measures in build-up to the historic gathering of around 2,300 CCP delegates.

"No COVID test, we want to eat," a banner on a bridge in Beijing's Haidian district read, also calling for an end to restrictions.

Xi's insistence on maintaining the zero-COVID approach will come as a blow to International Federations and event organisers which rely on staging competitions in China.   

Numerous events due to take place in China this year have been delayed due to coronavirus restrictions.

The Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games and Asian Para Games were pushed back until 2023, as was the Asian Beach Games in Sanya - initially set for 2020.

COVID-19 restrictions have seen the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games delayed until 2023 ©Getty Images
COVID-19 restrictions have seen the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games delayed until 2023 ©Getty Images

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, first scheduled in 2020, has been pushed back until 2025 and the Chengdu 2021 Summer World University Games also faced two postponements.

Chengdu 2021 has been moved to 2023.

The pandemic led to the Shantou 2021 Asian Youth Games being cancelled altogether, alongside 2021 World Rowing Championships in Shanghai.

World Taekwondo and the International Canoe Federation have been forced to move events outside of China, including the 2023 Junior and Under-23 Canoe Slalom and Wildwater Sprint World Championships being relocated to Auronzo in Italy.

This year's World Taekwondo Championships in Guadalajara had first been due to take place in Wuxi last year.

However, a select few events haven taken place in China, notably the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics where a "closed-loop management system" separated participants from the Chinese public.

Last month, the International Table Tennis Federation managed to stage its World Team Table Tennis Championships in Chengdu by employing a system.