(Reuters) – The United States and the Czech Republic withdrew from the January 13-31 world handball championships in Egypt after a COVID-19 outbreak among players from both teams, the International Handball Federation (IHF) confirmed. “The United States handball team has officially communicated to withdraw its participation in the world championship after several positive results following mandatory COVID-19 tests,” the sport’s governing body said on its official website. “The United States is therefore the second team to announce its withdrawal due to several positive cases of COVID-19 after the Czech Republic was forced to cancel its participation on Tuesday.” Switzerland will replace the United States, while North Macedonia took the place of the Czech Republic in the 32-team event, and host Egypt will face Chile in the opening match on Wednesday. The organizers had originally planned to allow up to 5,000 fans to attend each game, but the IHF and the Egyptian government scrapped the decision due to COVID-19 concerns and the tournament will now take place behind closed doors.
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