U.S. men’s handball team out of world championship after coronavirus outbreak

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The U.S. men’s handball team withdrew on the eve of the world championship tournament due to a coronavirus outbreak within the team.

“Two recent PCR tests indicated that a majority of our players and staff members tested positive for the virus,” according to USA Team Handball. “Everyone seems to be in good spirits and health, with little to no symptoms currently. However, the virus has rendered us unable to field a competitive team before our first match in two days.”

On Monday, 10 players from the 20-man roster tested positive, plus head coach Robert Hedin, while training in Denmark before they would have flown to Egypt for the tournament. Players were retested Tuesday with some positive and negative results flipped.

The U.S. federation and the International Handball Federation decided that the U.S. would withdraw after “in-depth discussions” before its first scheduled match against Austria on Thursday.

The U.S. was to play the world championship for the fist time since 2001. Its last Olympic appearance was 1996, when it got an automatic spot as host nation. It failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

The U.S. was given a place at worlds after the North America and the Caribbean Handball Confederation was unable to hold a qualifying tournament.

The Czech Republic also withdrew Tuesday from the 32-nation world championship after several positive tests.

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