Hong Kong's local government says it has delayed its legislative election for a year because of a spike in coronavirus cases.
And it's a blow to opposition candidates who were going to ride a wave resentment against Beijing to at the polls.
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam confirmed her decision on Friday after days of reports it may be coming.
The opposition had aimed to win a majority in the Legislative Council, where half the seats are directly elected with the other half filled mostly by pro-Beijing appointees.
The postponement of the vote also comes after 12 pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running.
Among them, was prominent protester Joshua Wong. Speaking at a news conference he said his disqualification was "invalid and ridiculous":
"Even the government censored me out from (the) ballot, they can't censor my qualification to commit in the democracy movement in Hong Kong and that's the reason they can't kill us all. Even if they try to prosecute us, bar us to run for office and silence our voice, we wish to try our best, let our voice be heard around the world."
The government denies political censorship or suppression of the right to run for the legislate.
Lam, who is backed by the Chinese national government in Beijing, said she had to invoke an emergency law to make the postponement and no political considerations were involved in the decision.
She told reporters it was the most difficult decision she had made in seven months and that it was aimed at safeguarding people's health.
Hong Kong has reported more than 3,000 coronavirus cases since January -- far lower than in other major cities around the world.
But for the past 10 days, the number of new infections has been in the triple-digits.
Nevertheless, government critics are likely to question the justification for the postponement.