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SARS Forces Rescheduling in Asia's Sports Events - 2003-04-28

The highly infectious respiratory disease, SARS, continues to affect the sports calendar in Asia. Asian Football Confederation delegates meeting in Doha have rescheduled Olympic and women's World Cup qualifying matches, as well as the Asian club championships.

The Asian qualifiers for the women's World Cup will go ahead June 10-22 in Bangkok, Thailand. The tournament had been due to start April 17 in Bangkok.

The Confederation said the postponed matches from the first and second rounds of qualifiers for the 2004 Athens Olympics will be played beginning in September. The final round of the Olympic qualifiers will then be played between next March and May.

Also, the return semifinal in the inaugural Asian Champions League between United Arab Emirates club Al Ain and Dalian Shide of China is now set for August 30. Al Ain had refused to travel to China to play Dalian on April 23. The finals will be played in the first half of October.

The rescheduling of the Asian women's championship has increased hopes that the women's soccer World Cup will start as planned in China on September 23, although a World Health Organization report that SARS was continuing to spread in China has cast further doubt over the Shanghai-based event.