PARIS -- The 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing has been postponed to March 2021 due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China, the governing body of world athletics sports announced on Wednesday.
"It is with regret that we have agreed with the organizers of the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing (13-15 March 2020) to postpone the event to March 2021," World Athletics wrote in a statement on its official website.
The statement also said that World Athletics has considered relocating the event to another country, but finally turned down this option "given concerns still exist regarding the spread of the virus outside China".
"We have chosen not to cancel the championships as many of our athletes would like this event to take place so we will now work with our athletes, our partners and the Nanjing organizing committee to secure a date in 2021 to stage this event," the statement said.
4 Chinese footballers miss Olympic qualifiers
Meanwhile, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) confirmed on Wednesday that four footballers including star striker Wang Shuang will miss next week's Tokyo Olympic women's football qualifying matches in Sydney, Australia, after being affected by China's ongoing coronavirus control.
"Three Wuhan natives Wang Shuang, Yao Wei, and Lyu Yueyun as well as Li Mengwen from Zhejiang province can't join the team to Australia due to the epidemic control," the CFA said, since the Chinese central city Wuhan is the 2019-nCoV virus outbreak epicenter and Zhejiang is the country's second most affected region.
With the distribution of 2019-nCoV virus across the country, Chinese authorities have taken strong measures, putting in place a nationwide prevention and control mechanism to curb the novel coronavirus.
China's football governing body noted that the four players will now strictly comply with the national and local epidemic control requirements to conduct quarantine observation at home, with no health abnormalities in their daily report.
Former Paris Saint-German player Wang, who was named Chinese female Footballer of The Year for the third straight time in January this year, has been widely regarded as the key playmaker of China's national team. And Midfielder Yao also featured in all four matches during the Steel Roses' World Cup journey in 2019.
"Our whole Chinese team, including 21 players have received the 2019-nCoV virus test before departure to Australia, and the results were all negative," added the CFA, saying that the team have arrived at Brisbane on Wednesday and will head to Sydney in two days.
All the Group B matches of the Tokyo Olympic women's football qualifiers are now scheduled to be held in Sydney from February 3 to 9, with China, Australia, Chinese Taipei, and Thailand included in the group. The important Olympic qualifications have been shifted out of China last Sunday amid concerns over the aggravating coronavirus outbreak.
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 has also postponed nationwide football matches due to novel coronavirus outbreak, according to Anadolu Agency report.
The Chinese Football Association said on its website on Thursday that it put off the 2020 football season at all levels to protect the health of fans, clubs, players, coaches, referees, and media staff from this pandemic virus.
The federation stated that it will go on to cooperate and communicate with national authorities to determine the schedule and fixtures, considering the development of the coronavirus.
The Chinese football's governing body added that it respects and is thankful to the medical staff, who struggle to prevent this pandemic, which hit the Asian country.
The virus which originated in Wuhan city, the central Hubei province, caused at least 170 deaths while more than 7,700 others were infected with the virus which is said to have transmitted to humans from animals, particularly bats. (Xinhua with reports from Anadolu)