MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Next month’s women’s Olympic football qualifiers in Wuhan have been shifted to Nanjing, the Asian Football Confederation said on Wednesday, following an outbreak of the new coronavirus in the central Chinese city.
Nine people are confirmed to have died and as many as 440 infected from the new SARS-like coronavirus now spreading across China after an outbreak in Wuhan.
“The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has agreed to the proposal by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) to move the … Asian Qualifiers Final Round – Group B from Wuhan to Jiangning Football Training Centre in Nanjing,” the continental governing body said in a statement.
The dates of the Feb. 3-9 tournament remain unchanged with top two teams qualifying for the playoff against group B counterparts for the final two places, alongside host Japan, at the Tokyo Olympics.
Australia has issued a travel warning for Wuhan, asking visitors to “exercise a high degree of caution”, but their head coach said on Tuesday they were preparing for a Wuhan trip.
Australia play Taiwan on Feb. 3, Thailand three days later and China on Feb. 9.
Taiwan’s football association said on Wednesday the sports administration had asked the AFC in December to change the location due to fears about the health of players.
If the venue was not changed then Taiwan’s team would not participate, the association added.
Taiwan, where one case of the coronavirus has been detected, has called on people not to visit Wuhan unless they absolutely have to.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Additional reporting by Felice Wu and Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing Peter Rutherford and Giles Elgood)