Coronavirus fears forces Olympic qualifier move to Sydney

Chinese players greet supporters at the end of an AFC Asian Cup round of 16 soccer match between Thailand and China in 2019. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

SYDNEY, Australia — Fear over the deadly viral outbreak in China has forced the Asian Football Confederation to move an Olympic qualifying event to Australia.

Sydney will replace Nanjing, China for the Feb. 3-7 tournament, which had already been moved from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the crisis which remains in lockdown. The illness has already caused 56 deaths.

The AFC issued a release Sunday saying the Chinese Football Association had withdrawn as host of the tournament which includes Australia, China, Taiwan and Thailand,

The Chinese federation said that it was taking the decision to withdraw because of the “current situation” of the virus in China.

The top two sides from Group B will play off — on a home and away basis — against the top two teams from Group A — South Korea, Myanmar and Vietnam — for the two places at the Tokyo Olympics.

Earlier Sunday, the International Tennis Federation moved a regional Fed Cup qualifying event from China to Kazakhstan next month.

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