South Africa pulls Olympic team out of Japan friendly over coronavirus fears

THE South African Football Association (Safa) will not send its Olympic football team to Japan to play a friendly in March because of concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

The two teams were due to play in Sanga on 27 March, four months before the start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

There have been 85 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Japan and one death, according to the World Health Organization as of 20 February.

South African Football Association’s (Safa) acting chief executive Gay Mokoena said the Japan Football Association had been trying to change his mind over the decision.

But they are growing concerns that this virus will threaten the biggest global sporting event. “We can’t put the lives of our players at risk. The death toll is rising each day and we are not prepared to take a big risk.” Explained Mokoena.

The Japanese football association is pleading with Safa to reconsider their cancellation, but Mokoena, insists that Safa has made up their minds.  “Japan is asking us to reconsider our decision, but we are sticking to our guns. We have to act in the best interest of our players.” Concluded Mokoena.


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