CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — The United States men’s handball team has been forced to withdraw from the world championships in Egypt after a coronavirus outbreak.
The U.S. team said late Tuesday that “a majority of our players and staff members tested positive for the virus” before the squad planned to travel to Egypt.
“Everyone seems to be in good health, with little to no symptoms currently,” the team said. “However, the virus has rendered us unable to field a competitive team.”
United States coach Robert Hedin told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on Tuesday that 18 people in the squad, including players and staff members, had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The United States is the second team ruled out by coronavirus cases, following the Czech Republic. The International Handball Federation named Switzerland and North Macedonia as late replacements for the championships.
Other teams have expressed dismay at what they see as insufficient coronavirus testing at the tournament. Denmark, along with Sweden, Germany, Norway and Austria, said it told the IHF that more regular tests were needed.
The U.S. men’s team was due to play in its first world championships since 2001 and was drawn to face Austria, France and Norway in the preliminary round. The Americans have already failed to qualify for this year’s postponed Tokyo Olympics.
The tournament in four cities in Egypt begins Wednesday and is being played without spectators.
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