BRISBANE, Australia — China’s national women’s soccer team has been quarantined in Australia ahead of an Olympic qualifying tournament as fears spread about the outbreak of a new virus that has killed more than 130 people.
Health officials in Queensland state said on Wednesday that 32 people, including players, coaches and staff, traveled through the virus-effected Chinese city of Wuhan a week ago. The team was placed in isolation by border officials after arriving in Brisbane from Shanghai on Tuesday, and will be confined to a Brisbane hotel until Feb. 5.
Queensland Health said the squad was traveling with a team doctor and none has shown symptoms.
The Olympic regional qualifying tournament had been relocated from Wuhan to Nanjing before the Asian Football Confederation moved it to Sydney, Australia, because of concerns over the deadly coronavirus. Now it likely will be delayed.
The tournament had been scheduled to kick off next Monday with a double-header of China against Thailand followed by Australia against Taiwan.
It’s the final stage of regional qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, which begin in July. The top two teams were supposed to advance to a home-and-away playoff for the last spot at the Olympic tournament.
Football Federation Australia on Wednesday placed a hold on ticket sales for the tournament.
The Chinese team trained in isolation before departing for Australia and players and staff all underwent testing before departure.
“They went through all the same checks that any Chinese national flying in from China would have gone through,” FFA chief executive James Johnson was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press. “We’re confident in the government’s checks and balances.”
The FFA said it was notified of the latest advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, that health experts believe the coronavirus is contagious before people show symptoms, and contacts of any confirmed cases must be isolated following exposure.
China has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further. The outbreak has infected more than 6,000 on the mainland and abroad. British Airways and Asian budget carriers Lion Air and Seoul Air have suspended flights to China and other airlines are reducing the number of flights to the country as demand for travel drops because of the outbreak.