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COVID-19 broke the Indian women’s soccer team’s biosecurity bubble here on Wednesday ahead of the AFC Asian Cup with two players testing positive for the virus, forcing organizers to move them to a medical facility for isolation. .

“Two members of the Indian Senior Women’s National Team for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently in isolation at a designated healthcare facility,” the All India Football Federation (AIFF) tweeted. ).

“The AIFF prioritizes the health and safety of its players and is following everything,” the organizing federation wrote in another tweet.

One of the players would have featured in the starting XI at the opening of the campaign against Iran, a source close to the AIFF said.

The two positive cases will not threaten the tournament as AIFF president Praful Patel said on Monday that matches will not be canceled if there are 13 players available on each of the two competing teams.

Patel, who is also chairman of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), said contingency plans have been put in place to deal with any situation should participating team members become infected with the virus.

“The affected player or players will be isolated, but the teams will be on the field as long as there are 13 players (on each team) available,” Patel said.

The 12 participating teams have named 23-member squads for the tournament.

The tournament takes on importance as the top five finishers will book a place in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. India is grouped with China, Chinese Taipei and Iran in Group A.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, strict health and safety protocols have been put in place for the tournament. The 12 participating teams remain within a strict bio-bubble and everyone involved in the tournament, including all players and officials, must undergo regular COVID-19 testing.

All staff working in the team hotels will also be in the biobubble and will not physically interact with anyone outside of the bubble. The same goes for the bus drivers who will transport the teams to training sessions and games. Housing within the bubble has also been provided for them.

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