Reports of COVID-19 infections from the Philippine Azkals national men’s football team, along with the Syrian and Maldives squad, have forced the Chinese Football Association to call off the games of the 2022 Qatar Fifa World Cup and AFC Asian Cup 2023 joint-qualifier in Suzhou, China.
Authorities in China said they are now moving the Group A qualifying games to Dubai at a still unspecified instead of holding it in Suzhou because of the situation.
“In view of the recent outbreak of infection in the Maldives and Syria national football teams, according to the relevant provisions of China on the prevention and control of infectious disease among inbound personnel, the entry of the Maldivian and Syrian teams to participate in the competition need to be strictly isolated and cannot participate as scheduled,” said the CFA in a statement.
The Philippine Football Federation confirmed that there are two team officials who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Because of this the Azkals will now have to extend their stay and their training camp in Doha, Qatar.
The Azkals were supposed to take a chartered flight to Shanghai last Sunday.
But the delegation was barred from leaving Doha at the last minute, according to the statement.
“As a requirement before taking that flight, the delegation underwent two RT PCR tests in the last 72 hours, the results of which all returned negative,” said the team in a statement.
According to reports, none of the team members tested positive in the RT PCR tests,
But two members tested positive in the IGM Antibodies probably due to their recent vaccinations while another pair “was told to not enter China because of their recent history as COVID-19 survivors.”
“The cancellation of the Group A matches in China PR has left a huge financial impact on the PFF as it needed to cancel the chartered flight at the last minute,” added the PFF in its statement.
The PFF is now waiting word from the Asian Football Confederation for a decision on their remaining Group A fixtures.
The Azkals were supposed to face Guam on June 3, China on June 9 and the Maldives on June 15.
“Our priority remains the health and safety of every individual in the team,” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami.