Great Britain’s Women’s Olympic basketball qualifier has been moved from China to Belgrade due to the coronavirus.

The southern city of Foshan was where Chema Buceta’s side were scheduled to join Spain, South Korea and China from 6-9 February with three basketball spots at Tokyo 2020 on the line.

But FIBA have confirmed it will now be played as one of two groups in the Serbian capital with the outbreak of the virus, which is thought to have already affected over 2,000 people, causing parts of China to be quarantined.

In a statement, FIBA said: “After having carefully evaluated the developments regarding the coronavirus outbreak and placing as main priority the safety of the participating players and team delegation members, the FIBA Executive Committee decided to relocate the tournament to Belgrade, Serbia, where one of the other three FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments will be played.

“Besides the evident operational advantages that allow FIBA to offer appropriate conditions for such an important tournament qualifying for Tokyo 2020, entry into Serbia is possible without a visa for citizens of all four participating countries.”

The switch will hugely boost GB’s hopes of qualifying for Tokyo 2020 with the lengthy travel to unfamiliar surroundings now removed. Buceta’s women reached the EuroBasket semi-finals in Belgrade last summer.

British Basketball Federation chairman Maurice Watkins said: “The health and safety of the players and staff is of paramount importance in this situation.

“We thank FIBA for taking swift action on this issue in difficult circumstances.”

The coronavirus has already led to the cancellation of the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships while one group in the Olympic women’s football qualification tournament was initially switched from Wuhan to Nanjing before a move to Sydney.

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Pic: MAP

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