International Olympic Committee eyes new venue for boxing qualifier

International Olympic Committee eyes new venue for boxing qualifier

Olympic qualifying events in two sports were moved from the Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday because of an outbreak of a deadly viral illness. That will decide which two teams from Asia will host Japan at the Tokyo Olympics.

The reported cancellation comes as China said the new strain of coronavirus has killed nine people and infected at least 440 others in the country.

Wuhan was due to host the boxing qualifiers from February 3-14 but the event was called off on Wednesday (Thursday NZ time).

Xinhua news agency on Monday reported that the Chinese Football Association had no plans to move the qualifying matches out of Wuhan.

The coronavirus caused an alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed almost 650 people in mainland China and Hong Kong in the period 2002-2003.

It follows an outbreak of the virus last month in the city of Wuhan that has since killed 17 people, sickened hundreds and spread as far as the United States.

Eight men and five women from the GB Boxing squad will be selected to compete at the tournament which will be their first opportunity to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

In a statement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) boxing task force confirmed the decision from organizers and said it would "work with the Chinese Olympic Committee and all partners to explore alternatives".

The change was proposed by the Chinese Football Association, it said. A day later, the International Olympic Committee announced that the qualifiers had indeed been shifted out of the city which is considered the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed several lives.

The task force earlier sought to push ahead with the qualifiers in Wuhan after the outbreak of the virus, but ultimately made a decision to cancel them as the virus is rapidly spreading beyond China. Sacheti is part of an expert group set up to advise the task force, and hence his views are likely to carry significant weight.



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