May 28 – The final AFC spot at the Tokyo 2020 women’s Olympic tournament will now be decided in February 2021 over a two-legged play-off between China and South Korea.
The Olympic qualification route has been a tortuous process for the Chinese who were originally scheduled to host a qualification group that was shifted to Australia in February when the coronavirus struck China.
The Chinese team were then quarantined before eventually being cleared to play and winning their way through to a play off with a 1-1 draw with South Korea. That decider was originally scheduled for march, then April, before two dates in June were agreed.
However, with the Olympics pushed back to July 23-August 8, 2021, the need to get the matches played quickly became less pressing and the February 19 and 24 dates have been set.
The two-leg tie had been scheduled for June 4 and 9 this year after the coronavirus pandemic forced its rescheduling twice, from dates in March and April.
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics now also postponed until 2021 because of COVID-19, the matches have been scheduled for February 19 and 24.
“The latest decision was confirmed to allow both Member Associations to have sufficient preparation time considering the challenging and unprecedented circumstances brought about by the pandemic,” the AFC said in a statement.
Japan women have already qualified as hosts of the Tokyo Olympics, while Australia have also qualified after winning their two-legged play-off with Vietnam.
Other qualifiers for the women’s competition are United States, Brazil, New Zealand, Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden, Canada and Zambia. Chile and Cameroon (like China and South Korea) have still to complete a final qualification knock-out round.
In the men’s Olympic competition Japan (as hosts), Australia, men’s AFC U23 Championship winners Korea Republic and runners-up Saudi Arabia are the AFC qualifiers.
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