The United States men's handball team is hit by a massive COVID outbreak as 18 players and the head coach are infected with the virus ahead of the World Championships.
The United States men's handball team have been hit by a coronavirus outbreak just two days before their opening game at their first World Championships since 2001.
18 players are infected with COVID-19, head coach Robert Hedin told the Norwegian newspaper "Aftenposten" revealing that he had tested positive for the virus himself.
"That is quite heavy news", said Hedin from their training camp in Norway, just hours before they were due to fly to the World Championships in Egypt.
"We will send 12 players to Egypt on Wednesday but we don't have a defense."
Hedin is unsure how it all happened. "We have been tested the whole time. All our rapid tests on Monday were negative," the Swede said.
The U.S. was nominated to represent the North American and Caribbean region by the IHF Council after attempts to organise a qualification tournament were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic situation.
The US squad will open their Egypt 2021 campaign in Group E against Austria on Thursday, before facing Norway and record world champion France.
The Worlds run from January 13-31, and are due to take place without fans present due to the pandemic.
The mega event in Egypt was seen as a great opportunity for Team USA to test themselves against handball powerhouses like Olympic and World champions Denmark, European champs Spain, and Lima 2019 Pan American winners Argentina.
But the COVID-outbreak put a damper on the endeavour after plenty of positive news had delighted handball fans in the United States over the past couple of years.
Good results in 2019 from the junior squads coming up promise much for the future.