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(LEAD) Olympic women's football qualifiers to be rescheduled after Tokyo 2020 postponement

All News 15:40 April 01, 2020

(ATTN: FIXES rankings in penultimate para; MINOR EDITS)

SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Olympic women's football qualifiers will be postponed indefinitely after the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games was pushed to next year, an official with the sport's national governing body said Wednesday.

South Korea were slated to face China in a home-and-home series on June 4 and 9 at venues that were to be determined later. That playoff was rescheduled twice in light of the global coronavirus outbreak. It was initially set for March before being postponed to April.

The June dates had been in doubt, given the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But after Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided last week to delay the 2020 Summer Games, South Korea and China no longer had to sweat over playing their qualifiers in June.

In this file photo, from Feb. 9, 2020, South Korean players celebrate their 3-0 victory over Vietnam in their Group A match in the third round of the Asian qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo, Jeju Island. (Yonhap)

The 2020 Olympics had been set to start July 24. They will instead open on July 23, 2021.

A Korea Football Association (KFA) official said discussions with the Chinese Football Association and the Asian Football Confederation over new dates are well under way.

"The first option is to hold them in the first half of next year. Plan B will be to have them in the second half of this year," the official said. "Since the IOC and FIFA also consider the safety of players their top priority, we'll keep monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and make our decision accordingly."

The winner of this two-legged showdown will qualify for the Olympics. In the other playoff series that has already been played, Australia crushed Vietnam 7-1 in the aggregate score to book its spot first.

Coached by Englishman Colin Bell, South Korea are ranked 18th in the world, three spots below China. In 37 all-time meetings, South Korea have four wins, six draws and 27 losses against China.

Women's football joined the Olympics in 1996, and South Korea, dubbed the Taeguk Ladies, have never played in the event.

This file photo, from Feb. 9, 2020, shows fans wearing masks in the stands at Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, during an Olympic women's football qualifying match between the home team South Korea and Vietnam. (Yonhap)


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