China's women's football team quarantine 'pre-planned'

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Kuala Lumpur - The decision to quarantine China's national women's team in an Australian hotel because of the deadly coronavirus outbreak "was pre-planned", a top Asian football official said Thursday.

The Chinese team is being kept in a Brisbane hotel after arriving in Australia reportedly via Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak and where an Olympic qualifying tournament was originally due to be held.

The event, which also involves Australia, Taiwan and Thailand, was on Sunday moved to Sydney, with matches scheduled to be played next week.

A number of sports events have either been postponed or moved outside of China since the outbreak of the deadly virus in Wuhan.

The Chinese Football Association on Thursday suspended all domestic matches and postponed next month's scheduled start of the top-flight season indefinitely.

Windsor John, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary, said that the move to quarantine China's women's team was planned by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) and Australian authorities.

"It is to allow for a two-week quarantine and it will be ending on the day of the first match," he told AFP. "No drama to this. It was pre-planned."

Queensland state chief health officer Jeannette Young said no one from the group, reportedly 32-strong including officials and staff, had shown any symptoms and that the quarantine was a precautionary measure.

China is due to play their first match against Thailand on February 3.

The virus has killed 170 people in China, infected more than 7,700 and spread around the world since emerging in the central city of Wuhan. 

Australian health officials on Wednesday said a 60-year-old man had been diagnosed with the virus, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the country to six.

John said the CFA's move to suspend all domestic football would not affect the AFC Champions League group stages as the Chinese clubs would now play their first three fixtures in February and March away from home.

"We have swapped the matches. There will be no impact since all home games re played away now," the AFC secretary-general said.

The CSL season had been due to kick off on February 22. 

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