Handball: United States, Czechs pull out of world championship

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Preparations for Handball World Championship amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Egypt

(Reuters) - The United States and the Czech Republic have pulled out of the Jan. 13-31 world handball championship in Egypt after a COVID-19 outbreak among players of both teams, the International Handball Federation (IHF) confirmed.

"USA Team Handball have officially communicated to withdraw their participation in the world championship following several positive results after the obligatory COVID-19 tests," the sport's governing body said on its official website.

"The USA are thus the second team to announce their withdrawal due to several positive COVID-19 cases after the Czech Republic was forced to cancel their participation earlier on Tuesday."

Switzerland will replace the United States while North Macedonia have taken the Czech Republic's slot in the 32-team event, with hosts Egypt facing Chile in the opening match on Wednesday.

The organisers had originally planned to let up to 5,000 fans attend each game but the IHF and the Egyptian government scrapped the decision due to COVID-19 concerns and the tournament will now be held behind closed doors.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis)