OSAKA, Japan – Canada’s women’s basketball team has apparently qualified for the FIBA World Cup before its qualifying tournament has even tipped off.
Belarus has pulled out of the four-team tournament that opens Feb. 10 in Osaka, Japan, according to an Instagram post that said the team had been hit with a COVID-19 outbreak.
Since the top three teams from the four-team tournament advance to the World Cup next September in Australia, Canada is assured a spot.
The Belarus team posted on Instagram that the team couldn’t fly to Japan, saying, “A significant part of the athletes and coaching staff were diagnosed with coronavirus just before departure, and in addition to the fact that team members are first-level contacts, some players also showed symptoms at the airport, which made it virtually impossible to participate in the tournament given quarantine restrictions in Japan.”
The No. 4-ranked Canadians open the tournament on Thursday against Japan. They also play Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The tournament marks the debut of Canadian women’s head coach Victor Lapena.
The World Cup, which is a qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics, opens Sept. 22 in Sydney.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2022.