Handball

USA, Czech Republic out of Men's Handball Worlds after Covid outbreaks

Switzerland and North Macedonia drafted in as replacements after two teams pull out of event in Egypt

By ZK Goh ·

The IHF World Men's Handball Championship has been hit by the forced withdrawals of two teams eve of the tournament after the United States and Czech Republic both pulled out of the event in Egypt.

Both teams reported coronavirus outbreaks in their respective team camps before flying to Egypt, with the Americans reporting 18 positive tests among players and staff, including at least half the playing squad and head coach Robert Hedin.

The U.S. tested players on Monday and again on Tuesday, with no improvement in the situation. The team was due to play in its first Worlds in two decades after having been awarded a spot in Egypt by virtue of the North American qualifiers being cancelled.

Switzerland will take Team USA's place in Group E alongside Norway, Austria, and France.

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Earlier, the Czech Republic became the first team to announce they would not take their place in Egypt.

The Czechs, who would have been taking part in their first World Championship since 2015, also reported several coronavirus positives in their side from pre-departure testing.

Now their spot in Group G will be filled by the first reserve team North Macedonia, who will face Sweden, Chile, and the hosts.

Games in Egypt, to be held across four venues with the final weekend in Cairo, will be played behind closed doors with no fan attendance. All teams will be kept in a bio-secure bubble.