Women’s Olympic basketball qualifier relocated from ChinaAn Olympic women’s basketball qualifying tournament involving Korea, scheduled to be played in China next month, has been relocated to Serbia due to concerns regarding the deadly new coronavirus.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said late Monday that the tournament, initially set to take place in Foshan, China, starting from Feb. 6 to 9, will be contested on the same dates in Belgrade.
It will be one of four qualifying competitions for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer. Belgrade will now host two of them, with Belgium’s Ostend and the French city of Bourges staging one tournament each.
“After having carefully evaluated the developments regarding the coronavirus outbreak and placing as the main priority the safety of the participating players and team delegation members, the FIBA Executive Committee decided to relocate the tournament to Belgrade, Serbia,” FIBA said in a statement.
The central Chinese city of Wuhan is the epicenter of the viral outbreak that has seen infection cases in Korea and about a dozen other countries.
Having claimed more than 80 lives in China, the Wuhan coronavirus can pass from person to person.
In the qualifying tournament, Korea, who is ranked 19th in the world ranking, is paired with the third-ranked Spain, eighth-ranked China and the 18th-ranked Britain. The top three countries from this group after a round robin will qualify for the Olympics.
Korea failed to qualify for the past two Summer Games, in 2012 and 2016, after playing in four straight from 1996 to 2008.
The women’s team’s best finish at the Games was a runner-up finish back at the 1984 Summer Olympics.