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Australia to host AFC Women's Olympic Qualifiers

Road to Tokyo 2020: Australia to host AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament amid coronavirus outbreak in China

January 26, 2020 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
Due to the recent coronavirus pandemic, February's Tokyo 2020 qualifiers have been moved from China to Sydney, Australia.

The rapid spread of the new coronavirus has led the Asian Football Confederation to revoke China's right to host this year's AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament, a report by FIFA has confirmed. The tournament scheduled for next month ahead of this year's Olympic Games in Toyko will now be hosted in Australia's capital Sydney.

The decision was reached after cases of coronavirus infestation in Wuhan, the original host city for the four nation tournament, came to light. In wake of this, the Matildas of Australia who have been camping in Sydney and were expected to depart for China on January 28, will stay put and welcome Chinese Taipei, Thailand and China for their Group B qualifiers.

"FFA is happy and willing to organize this Olympic Qualification Tournament, and we look forward to hosting the women's senior national teams from China PR, Thailand and Chinese Taipei in February," Football Federation Australia chairman Chris Nikou stated.

"The safety of all players, officials and fans is of paramount importance to Football Federation Australia and the Asian Football Confederation, and we are confident we will host a successful tournament here in Sydney.

"I would also like to acknowledge the support of the Australian Government in enabling FFA to host this event at short notice."

Meanwhile, the AFC's decision to move the Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament to Australia under short notice could potentially boost the latter's chances of hosting the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup ahead of the bids selection. Australia and New Zealand are joint bidders and are hoping to beat Colombia, Japan and Brazil to earn the right to host the next edition of the global competition.

The turn of the year saw FIFA commence its inspection visits to the member associations with Colombia being the first stop. After the completion of the venues evaluation in the South America country, world football's governing body will follow suit with visits to Brazil, Australia and New Zealand and finally Japan between February 3 and February 27.

Later in April this year, FIFA will publish the bid evaluation reports before the FIFA Council which constitutes 37 board members will vote to appoint the host(s) in June.

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