Soccer-Japan withdraw from SheBelieves Cup due to COVID-19

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(Reuters) - The Japanese women's national team have withdrawn from next month's SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, Florida, because of the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in their country, U.S. Soccer said on Thursday.

The decision by the Japanese team, who are 10th in the FIFA women's world rankings, comes after the death toll from the novel coronavirus in Japan topped 5,000 over the weekend.

Japan will be replaced by Argentina in the Feb. 18-24 round-robin tournament featuring top-ranked United States, Canada and Brazil, U.S. Soccer said in a news release.

Argentina will slot into Japan's schedule and will kick off the tournament on Feb. 18 against Brazil.

According to U.S. Soccer, teams competing in the SheBelieves Cup will operate inside highly controlled environments at the host hotel when they arrive in Orlando.

Everyone will also be tested for COVID-19 before travelling, upon arrival and every two days thereafter. Teams will also not begin full team training until the results of all arrival tests are confirmed.

All matches will be conducted with limited attendance.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)