Wednesday, April 30
WNBA games canceled; badminton postponed

Associated Press

Four WNBA teams were forced to cancel preseason games against the Chinese national team, which is not allowed to travel to the United States because of concerns about the SARS virus.

The first game of the exhibition tour was scheduled for Monday in Austin, Texas, against the San Antonio Silver Stars.

China also was scheduled to play the defending WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks, the Houston Comets and Sacramento Monarchs.

Badminton's world championships also were called off Wednesday, postponing a tournament that serves as the main qualifying event for next year's Athens Olympics.

The championships had been set for May 12-18 in Birmingham, England.

FIFA, soccer's world governing body, will consider a recommendation Saturday from its sports medical committee about the future of the women's World Cup. The event is set for Sept. 23-Oct. 11 at various sites around China.

"Several members of the sports medical committee are in daily contact with experts from the World Health Organization," FIFA said in a statement Wednesday.

The International Badminton Federation said it will meet as soon as possible to consider when to reschedule.

Badminton's best players come from Asia. The world championships were to feature nearly 350 players from 48 countries.

IBF chief executive Neil Cameron cited concerns of a ``risk to everyone involved'' and of ``continued fears regarding SARS.'' The IBF said several countries were reluctant or unable to send players.

SARS has infected more than 5,400 people in about 20 countries. More than 375 people have died worldwide, with at least 159 deaths in China since November. No deaths from SARS have been reported in Britain.

The table tennis world championships remain scheduled for Paris from May 19-25. Table tennis is another Olympic sport dominated by Asia, with 600 male and female players from 120 nations scheduled to attend the worlds.

Turkmenistan's soccer team decided not to travel to Malaysia on Wednesday for a qualifying match because of SARS. The match was scheduled for Saturday in Kuala Lumpur.

FIFA said that if Turkmenistan does not play, there will be no second match in Ashgabat on June 7, and Malaysia will get a spot in the final round.

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