Lausanne, Switzerland, June 27, 2003 - The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) on Friday announced a change of venue for the SWATCH-FIVB Women's Open in China to a new province near Shanghai, which has been cleared by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The event (August 13-17) will now be held in Lianyung, north of Shanghai in an area that has suffered only seven cases of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) - less than several major European countries, and follows a clearance from WHO, which as of June 25, 2003, only classify Toronto and Taiwan as 'risky'.
WHO has now lifted all their travel restriction advice for all countries affected by the SARS epidemic, according to Dr. Annie Peytavin, head of the FIVB Medical Commission.
"This is a good solution for us as it is very important to save the tournament," said FIVB Beach Volleyball Coordinator, Angelo Squeo, acknowledging the help of the China Volleyball Assocation and the China Sport Industry for their support in finding a solution to the problem.
Squeo said that although it was obviously a disadvantage for the organizers to have to move the event, the health and safety of the players was paramount.
"With this move we have acknowledged the players' concern and acted to find a suitable and safer solution. We hope that they will now respond by supporting the tournament, which is very important in the global context of our sport," Squeo added.
The move follows a meeting with women players at last week's Gstaad Open in Switzerland, where they expressed concern about traveling to the original location.
An inspection of the new proposed venue will be made by FIVB officials July 11-14 and players will be able to fly from the event Osaka (Japan) to Beijing and/or Shanghai with connecting flights to be arranged to the city of Lianyungang.