Missed opportunity

Sports | AGENCIES 12 Feb 2020

China and Hong Kong have had to withdraw from badminton's Asia Team Championships in Manila due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The event, which started yesterday and runs until Sunday, serves as the Asian qualifying event for the Thomas and Uber Cup team championships later this year.

It is also part of the qualification process for this year's Tokyo Olympics.

Among the Hong Kong players who had been looking to boost their Olympic qualification hopes in Manila were Angus Ng Ka-long, Lee Cheuk-yiu, Cheung Ngan-yi, Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet.

"The decision to impose the 14 days quarantine period for all travellers coming from China, Hong Kong and Macau has to be respected in view of the health and safety of the Philippines government for its people," organizers Badminton Asia said. "It is in this respect that the above event will not see the teams from China and Hong Kong competing."

The Indian women's team also withdrew after concerns were raised by players and their parents, said the Badminton Association of India.

"After receiving complete assurances from Badminton Asia, the men's team agreed to travel and confirmed their participation however, the women's team was withdrawn," the BAI said.

More than 42,000 people have been infected by the flu-like virus in mainland China. The Philippines has temporarily banned all travellers from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, leaving organizers scrambling to try to arrange visas for players and officials for the event.

The coronavirus epidemic has had a major impact on the sports calendar in Asia. Olympic qualifying tournaments for boxing, basketball and women's football have been postponed, rescheduled or moved from China.

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