January 29, 2020 / 10:59 AM / a month ago

Virus concern hits lengthening list of sports events

(Reuters) - The list of international sporting events affected by a new virus outbreak in China grew on Wednesday with skiing World Cup races in Yanqing canceled and Olympic women’s football in Australia in doubt on concerns about athletes’ safety.

Badminton, tennis and basketball were among other sports whose governing bodies were rearranging events, weighing possible changes or monitoring the implications of the outbreak.

Skiing’s governing body FIS said it took the “difficult decision” along with local organizers to cancel the Feb. 15-16 Alpine Ski World Cup — the first official test event for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

“Although the risk level in Yanqing is low, the health and welfare of athletes and all participants must take priority,” FIS president Gian Franco Kasper said. FIS will announce the rescheduling of the canceled races at a later date.

Earlier, the Asian Football Confederation said home matches of the four Chinese clubs on the first three match days of the AFC Champions League will be rescheduled and played away by swapping the order with their opponents.

The Chinese Football Association said four players — Wang Shuang, Yao Wei, Lyu Yueyun and Li Mengwen — would miss next week’s Olympic women’s qualifying tournament in Sydney after being affected by China’s coronavirus control.

China last week withdrew as hosts of the four-nation event, which also features Australia, Taiwan and Thailand, before the AFC moved the matches to Sydney. But the event suffered another blow when Australia’s soccer federation said it would postpone ticket sales while awaiting advice from the authorities.

The Chinese team, scheduled to play their first match on Feb. 3, were told to remain in their hotel rooms until Feb. 5 after arriving in Brisbane on Wednesday.

The International Tennis Federation has moved the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group I event - featuring teams from China, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Uzbekistan - out of Dongguan to Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) in Kazakhstan.

But Kazakhstan has since declined to serve as a substitute host for the Feb. 4-8 event after suspending all passenger travel to and from China.

Badminton's governing body BWF said here that it would monitor implications related to the outbreak and that no decision had been made on the Feb. 25-March 1 China Masters in Lingshui.

Organizers of the Formula E championship confirmed they are working closely with local authorities in Hainan province ahead of the race in Sanya scheduled for March 21.

The International Olympic Committee last week announced Jordan as hosts of the 2020 Olympics boxing qualifiers for Asia and Oceania after an event in China’s Wuhan was canceled.

A Feb. 6-9 women’s Olympic basketball qualifying tournament was moved from Foshan to Belgrade while a Feb. 21-23 X-Games event in Chongli was postponed.

The virus outbreak has killed over 130 people with almost 6,000 others affected by the flu-like virus that emerged late last year in Wuhan in the central Hubei province.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Alan Baldwin and Olzhas Auyezov, Editing by William Maclean

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