FIBA have insisted that next week’s Olympic qualifying tournament, featuring China, will go ahead.

Doubts had emerged that the four-team pool in Belgrade, which also includes Great Britain, Spain and South Korea, could be held amid the increasing international protocols in place to cope with the coronavirus, which has now been declared as a ‘global emergency’ by the World Health Organisation.

Football’s scheduled Olympic qualifiers in Sydney have been thrown into turmoil after the Chinese team were placed into a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Australia with speculation that the basketball version could suffer similar disruption if Serbia imposed such measures.

British Basketball officials had privately expressed concerns about sharing accommodation and a court with China’s players who could be transporting a virus which has now killed 213 people in their country.

However FIBA say the Tokyo 2020 qualifier – which begins next Thursday – will proceed with Chinese participation rather than seeking a postponement – or a forfeit – on medical grounds.

“The health and wellbeing of our players, team delegates and fans is FIBA’s number one priority,” a FIBA spokesperson said.

“Given the current situation surrounding the coronavirus, FIBA has taken a number of precautions to protect all those who are taking part in our upcoming Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia.

“FIBA confirms that the Chinese women’s basketball team will compete in the tournament. The members of the Chinese team will need to present a current medical certificate upon arrival. Also, upon arrival in Belgrade, passengers from all nations will undergo thermal medical screening.

“Throughout the tournament a specialist Chief Medical Officer will be on site and will be supported by a FIBA Supervisory Doctor.

“FIBA will continue to monitor the situation closely and will not hesitate to implement any further preventative measures should they be required.”

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The tournament was moved from China to Serbia due to the outbreak of the coronavirus and it now means eight teams, from two separate groups, will play in Belgrade, with the other pool including Serbia, Mozambique, Nigeria and the United States of America.

However Great Britain forward Chantelle Handy claimed the health issue cannot become a distraction over the next week.

“Our focus is on what we’re trying to do,” she said. “Obviously we’re aware of the situation going on.

“But we expect FIBA will handle things professionally. It’s their call on what will happen when the Chinese come in. We’re just focusing now on the preparation.”


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