Pakistani athletes in China have to stay a little longer as airlines have stopped operations due to coronavirus outbreak in the country, The News reported Thursday.
“They will have to stay for a few more days as there is no flight operation from Nanjing to Islamabad during the next few days,” a senior official of the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) told the publication.
“I am in constant contact with the travel agent and probably the flights will reopen their operations by February 4 and our athletes will return by the first available flight,” the official said.
Airlines have suspended services to China while, the World Health Organization, which initially downplayed the severity of a disease that has now killed 170 nationwide, warned all governments to be “on alert” as it weighed whether to declare a global health emergency.
National athletes including Arshad Nadeem, Olympian Mehboob Ali, Mohammad Naeem, Uzair-ur-Rehman and Samiullah are in Nanjing for training purposes.
“They had to undergo training there until the end of next month but are returning due to outbreak of coronavirus in China,” the official told the newspaper.
The training tour had been arranged through the collaboration of Pakistan’s embassy in China.
The federation has asked the embassy to send the athletes back due to fear of flu-like virus which is causing havoc in China.
“We are in contact with our athletes. They are safe. The place where they are staying is quite safe and hopefully they will return safely,” the official said.
Because of the virus, several international events China was going to host were either postponed or moved to other countries.
Asian and Oceania boxing qualifiers for 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in which Pakistani fighters were also set to feature, were scheduled to be hosted by Wuhan in the first and second week of next month were moved to Jordan. The qualifiers will now be held from March 3-14 in Amman, Jordan’s capital.