Olympic women's football qualifiers re-scheduled amid Team China quarantine


  • China
  • Saturday, 01 Feb 2020

China's top striker Wang Shuang (in red) will not play for the team during the Tokyo Olympics women's football qualifiers because she is down with fever and coronavirus symptoms. - AP/Xinhua/ANN

SYDNEY: Football Federation Australia (FFA) confirmed on Friday that the Tokyo Olympics women's football qualifiers have been re-scheduled as the Chinese team are being quarantined in Brisbane until Feb 5 amid concerns of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Asian Olympic qualification matches, with China, Australia, Chinese Taipei and Thailand included in Group B, were scheduled to take place in Sydney from February 3 to 9. As Team China's quarantine ends on February 5, the FFA added an additional match day on Feb 12 when China will take on Australia, after facing Thailand on Feb 6 and Chinese Taipei on Feb 9.

"FFA very much appreciates the collaborative approach displayed by everyone to re-schedule the Olympic Qualification tournament. I'd like to thank the Chinese Football Association (CFA) for their understanding and cooperation, despite the difficult situation their team and staff have found themselves in since arriving in Brisbane," said the FFA Chief Executive James Johnson.

"As always, the health of everyone involved, from players and officials to the fans and contractors, remains the number one priority," he added.

Group B matches of the Olympic qualifiers were originally set to be held in Wuhan, the epicentre of the 2019-nCoV virus outbreak. The tournament was moved to Sydney last Sunday in a joint decision by the Asian Football confederation (AFC) and the CFA.

The 32 members of the China women's national team arrived in Brisbane on Wednesday morning and have been placed in isolation in the hotel by local authorities since arrival, due to the fact they trained in Wuhan city until January 22, before the epidemic worsened and the city was locked down.

The CFA released a statement on Thursday, noting that all team members passed a 2019-nCoV virus screening before departure to Australia, "The examination result showed that all samples are negative."

"We understand the concern of the Queensland government, the media and local people over the risk of the coronavirus and will work closely with all stakeholders to fulfil all quarantine requirements," CFA vice president Sun Wen said on Thursday.

"All the players and staff members are in good health, and we can only stay and eat in a separated floor in the hotel," Sun said about their current living conditions. "Obviously there are difficulties, both physically and mentally, but our players are in good spirits."

The CFA's top official also noted that the inability to train is the team's biggest problem right now and one that desperately needed to be solved, urging for joint efforts to ensure the team's pre-match training activities: "We can't use the gym in the hotel, and are not allowed to conduct outdoor training until the local authorities approve."

The AFC women's football qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo consist of two groups, with South Korea hosting Vietnam and Myanmar in Group A. The top two teams from each qualifying group will advance to a play-off round to determine which two Asian teams will join hosts Japan at the Games.

China's football governing body confirmed on Wednesday that four players including star striker Wang Shuang will have to miss the competition after being affected by the country's ongoing nationwide coronavirus control. - Xinhua/Asian News Network
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