Sport

Coronavirus outbreak in China sees new soccer season postponed

The new Chinese Super League season will be postponed along with the rest of domestic football in China due to he rapidly spreading coronavirus epidemic.

Chinese health authorities said there were 7,711 confirmed cases of infection as of the end of Wednesday, mostly in Hubei province, with the total number of confirmed deaths from the newly identified pathogen up to 170.

Coronavirus infections have been reported in at least 15 other countries.

On Thursday, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) said in a statement on its website that football games at all levels would be postponed in order to help control the virus spread.

“The Chinese Football Association will continue to maintain close communication with national authorities … and make reasonable adjustments to the organisation, schedule and scale of matches where necessary,” it said.

The virus has had a major impact on China’s sporting landscape, with several events cancelled and the country’s Olympic women’s football team quarantined in Australia.

The team had travelled to Australia to play in an Olympic qualifying tournament but will remain quarantined in a Brisbane hotel. Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the players were healthy and being checked every day.

Several members of the local Chinese communities have cancelled Lunar New Year celebrations following the outbreak.

“I thank the Chinese community for their proactive response for how they’ve dealt with this,” Young said.

The Olympic tournament had originally been scheduled to be held in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, before it was switched to Nanjing and later transferred out of China to Sydney.

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The Chinese team, who were scheduled to play their first match on February 3, arrived in Brisbane on Wednesday and have been told to remain in their hotel rooms until February 5.

Late on Wednesday, the World Athletics Indoor Championships, scheduled to take place in Nanjing in March, was postponed until 2021 over fears related to the coronavirus outbreak, the sport’s governing body said.

The governing bodies of several other sports, including skiing, badminton, tennis and basketball, have also been forced into rearranging events, weighing possible changes or monitoring the implications of the outbreak.

Additional reporting by PA.

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