PARIS, France- The
World Indoor Athletics Championships, scheduled for the Chinese city of Nanjing
in March, have been postponed until 2021 as a consequence of the coronavirus
epidemic, officials said.

“It is with regret that we have agreed with the
organisers of the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing (13-15 March
2020) to postpone the event to March 2021,” the sport’s governing body
said in a statement.

“The advice from our medical team, who are in contact
with the World Health Organisation, is that the spread of the coronavirus, both
within China and outside the country, is still at a concerning level and no one
should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed.”

The championships are the latest sports event to be hit by
the virus which as of Wednesday had seen some 6,000 cases confirmed in China
with at least 132 fatalities. 

The virus has spread from the epicentre of Wuhan to more
that 15 countries, with about 60 cases in Asia, Europe, North America and, most
recently, the Middle East. 

World Athletics said they had considered the possibility of
relocating the event to another country but “given concerns still exist
regarding the spread of the virus outside China, we have decided not to go with
this option, as it may lead to further postponement at a later date”.

“We would like Nanjing to be the host given the
extensive planning and preparation they have put into this event.

“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 organising committee to secure a
date in 2021 to stage this event.”

Earlier Wednesday, World Cup skiing races in the Chinese
resort of Yanqing, the first test events for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics,
were cancelled because of the outbreak. 

The men’s downhill and super-G races were scheduled for
February 15 and February 16 in Yanqing, 70 kilometres (45 miles) northwest of
Beijing.

In Australia, the China’s women’s football team has been
quarantined in a Brisbane hotel after arriving for an Olympic qualifying
competition.

All home games for Chinese football clubs in the AFC
Champions League’s group stage in February and March will be rescheduled and
played as away fixtures.

The change affects four Chinese clubs and their South Korean
opponents.

The Asian Football Confederation said the decision was a
“precautionary measure to ensure the safety and well-being of all
participating players and teams”.

Elsewhere, the International Tennis Federation has already
said next week’s Fed Cup’s Asia/Oceania Group I event had been moved from
Dongguan, southern China, to Kazakhstan.

The women’s team event, involving China, Taiwan, India,
South Korea and Uzbekistan will now be held in the Kazakh capital on the
originally scheduled dates, February 4-8.

The Asian indoor athletics championships planned for
February 12-13 in Hangzhou have also been cancelled.

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