Egypt has said that the World Men’s Handball Championship due to start on Wednesday in Cairo will go ahead despite a host of sporting events around the world being canceled or postponed amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
Teams from 32 countries will take part in the tournament from Jan. 13-31, with the Egyptian national team opening the competition with a match against Chile on Wednesday in the Cairo International Stadium.
However, in a bid to counter the spread of the virus, the Handball World Cup’s organizing committee said that the tournament will take place without spectators.
Hisham Nasr, president of the Egyptian Handball Federation and the organizing committee, said that players will be tested for the coronavirus every 48 hours as part of strict precautionary measures for the event.
“All those participating are subject to coronavirus tests so that they can return to their home countries safely,” he said.
Nasr said that four hotels have been allocated to competing teams, with only players and administrators allowed on the premises. An Egyptian doctor has been assigned to each team to carry out coronavirus tests, while each hotel has eight isolation rooms as well as X-ray machines, test labs and a pharmacy.
Testing and precautionary measures will also apply to the administrators in charge of hotel service and to restaurants, which will be checked every 72 hours.
Nasr said that a record number of countries will compete in the tournament, which previously included only 24 teams.
If the event is a success, Egypt will be a “beacon for the world and all countries aspiring to organize this type of tournament,” he said.
Ashraf Sobhi, Egypt’s sports minister, said that the EU recommended the tournament be held without spectators due to the pandemic.
Sobhi said that he looked forward to the tournament’s opening ceremony, which he said will be spectacular.
The tournament includes eight groups in the first round, with four teams in each group. The top three teams from each group will qualify for the second round.
In the main round, the 24 teams will be divided into four groups, with two teams in each group qualifying for the quarterfinals.
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