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China’s ambitions to be a global sporting hub took a heavy blow as the postponement of this year’s Asian Games further isolated a country already cut off by its hard-line “zero-COVID” strategy.

The ruling Communist Party burnished its global image with an array of dazzling spectacles such as Beijing’s 2008 Summer and 2022 Winter Olympics, tennis and golf tournaments featuring all the world’s leading stars and a showpiece annual Formula One grand prix.

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