February 2, 2020 / 7:59 AM / a month ago

Australia seek urgent reshuffling of Champions League matches

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian soccer officials are seeking the urgent rescheduling of Asian Champions League matches after their government imposed a travel ban on foreign nationals arriving from China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Both Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG were due to play Champions League matches next week in Australia against A-League sides Perth Glory and Sydney FC.

Australia’s government, however, on Saturday imposed a temporary travel ban on foreign nationals arriving from China.

Anyone arriving in Australia from China would be returned to their port of origin or quarantined for 14 days.

“Following yesterday’s announcement ... Football Federation Australia (FFA) officially advised the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) of the situation,” FFA said in a statement on Sunday.

“In particular, how this announcement directly impacts Match Day 1 (MD 1) of the AFC Champions League 2020 and it will now not be possible to play MD 1 in Australia as originally scheduled.

“As a result, the AFC has called an urgent meeting on Tuesday 4 February at AFC house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to discuss the situation with all relevant stakeholders.”

Perth were due to play Shanghai Shenhua on Feb. 11, while Sydney were hosting Shanghai SIPG on Feb. 12.

The outbreak of the flu-like virus has killed more than 300 people and infected more than 14,000 others in China after it first emerged in Wuhan in Hubei province last year. It has since spread to about two dozen other countries.

Several other countries have imposed travel bans while airlines have stopped flying to China, and the World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

The outbreak has affected numerous international sports events within China, with the world indoor athletics championships, which were scheduled to be held in Nanjing from March 13-15, postponed until next year.

Qualifying tournaments for this year’s Tokyo Olympics in basketball, badminton and boxing have also been postponed, rescheduled or moved, while an LPGA Tour golf tournament has been pushed back to next year.

A four-team women’s soccer Olympic qualifying tournament involving China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand - which moved to Australia from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began - has been further affected with China’s team placed in quarantine in Brisbane by authorities until Feb. 5.

The Tokyo Olympics take place in the Japanese capital from July 24 to Aug. 9.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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