China has withdrawn from hosting the IWF World Championships this year because of COVID-19 complications ©Getty Images

The rapid rise of COVID-19 infections within its borders has led to China withdrawing as host nation for the 2022 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships.

The event is more than seven months away but the Chinese Weightlifting Association (CWA) has written to the IWF to say it cannot go ahead with plans for what would have been a landmark occasion.

The IWF is looking for a replacement host and has given National Federations 15 days to express an interest.

China was planning "a carnival for the international weightlifting family" in Chongqing in November, as revealed by insidethegames in January.

In what is likely to be the first qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the CWA was planning several innovations including prize money for athletes, the concurrent hosting of the Chinese National Championships, an expo for equipment and sportswear, a forum on international development and other events.

Revamping weightlifting to make it a commercial success that "taps into its full market value", make it more exciting, more athlete-focused, and easier to follow for spectators, television viewers and social media users were among suggestions put forward by Zhou Jinqiang, President of the CWA.

A CWA statement said: "After thoughtful consideration, it is with great regret that we are not able to meet all the IWF requirements to organise the IWF World Championships this year.

"We are committed to our sport and would like to assure the IWF family that as soon as the situation permits, we are more than happy to host a future World Championships and IWF events as we have done in the past."

Chongqing was set to host the 2022 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships in November ©Getty Images
Chongqing was set to host the 2022 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships in November ©Getty Images

Under the current strict COVID-19 prevention and control measures in China, all teams and officials would have to carry out a 21-day quarantine.

Lockdowns have been imposed across China, affecting millions of people, after a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The number of events moved, postponed or cancelled continues to grow.

Since the Tokyo Olympic Games last year, events on the IWF competition calendar have been cancelled or postponed in Singapore, Chile and Korea, while forthcoming championships in Puerto Rico, Japan, Hungary and now China have already been postponed.

The IWF interim President, Mike Irani, said: "The Chinese Weightlifting Association has been a great partner.

"Together we have been working hard for over two years to deliver the World Championships in China this year.

"However, unfortunately, the pandemic is still with us and we must do what is best for our sport and our athletes.

"We thank the Chinese Weightlifting Association for all their efforts and look forward to returning to China another time."

China is the most-successful nation in weightlifting, having won at least five gold medals at every Olympic Games this century and a record seven in Tokyo.