LIVERPOOL: Evertons planned tour of China in May was called off on Monday due to the outbreak of the deadly flu-like SARS virus.
The English Premier League club, sponsored by Chinese mobile phone maker Kejian and with Chinese international midfielder Li Tie in their first team, had been due to play Chinese side Shandong on May 23 and Shenzhen on May 25.
Fellow-Premier League club Aston Villa were also due to be involved in the four-team tournament but have yet to make an announcement of their plans.
Sadly, we have to announce that the clubs proposed trip to China has this morning been cancelled, Everton spokesman Ian Ross told the clubs website.
The simple truth is that we could not take the risk of exposing anyone be they players, officials or supporters to the possibility of infection by the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus.
We have taken expert advice on a daily basis over the past fortnight and we have now been advised not to travel to the Far East at this point in time.
Both the Foreign Office and World Health Organisation (WHO) have issued warnings to tourists and businesses urging them not to travel unless absolute necessary.
Shenzhen is located in the Guangdong province of China where SARS was first identified.
Hong Kong, where Everton had been planning to make their base, has also been affected.
SARS has no known cure and has since spread through Asia and worldwide, killing more than 100 people and infecting more than 2,600. Reuters