Olympic qualifiers interfered by coronavirus outbreak

China women's national football team

Women’s teams from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) prepare for the third round of Olympic qualification as the new coronavirus outbreak becomes a public health emergency.

The third round of the tournament features eight teams broken into two groups. Group A will take place in Seogwipo, South Korea, while Group B will take place in Sydney, Australia.

Initially, Group B was going to take place in Wuhan, China. After the outbreak of the coronavirus, the AFC decided on moving the games to Nanjing. This was in effort to be further away from the virus’ epicenter.

When the virus escalated in mid-January, areas within China were placed on lockdown and travel bans were enacted. With the safety of “all players, officials and fans” held in the highest importance, the Chinese Football Association withdrew its duties as host nation.

As a result, the AFC determined that Sydney would be the most appropriate location to host Group B.

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Problems for China’s national team

The Chinese national team still intends to take part in the tournament. However, they will be without Wang Shuang, Yao Wei, Lyu Yueyun and Li Mengwen, all of who have been affected by China’s travel bans.

The squad members that did travel now face an extra hurdle. They are being quarantined by Australian authorities in their hotel in Brisbane, Australia.

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The general secretary of the AFC told French news agency AFP that the quarantine was preplanned and “will be ending on the day of the first match.” It was further revealed that the quarantine will remain in effect until February 5.

On January 30, the World Health Organization officially declared the virus outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern. It is unclear whether this declaration will further impact the Olympic qualifiers.

Following the rescheduling of fixtures, China is to face off against Thailand on February 6.

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