Photo courtesy of the Handball World Championship official website
Egypt made on Sunday a U-turn on its decision to allow limited fan attendance at the handball World Championship, saying the tournament would be held behind closed doors.
The head of the local organizing committee Hesham Nasr, who is also the president of the Egyptian Handball Federation, said that rising COVID-19 cases have forced a re-think.
"The state fulfilled the wish of the European Handball Players Union to reassure them before they take part in the tournament," Nasr told the World Championship official website.
The decision came following a meeting involving Nasr, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy and Hassan Mostafa, the International Handball Federation president.
Egypt previously announced that it would allow fan attendance at 20 percent of the capacity of the four venues that will host the World Championship.
The controversial decision sparked concerns among some teams, with Danish Mikkel Hansen saying he would reconsider his participation.
"I don’t know if the tournament should be canceled, but there shouldn't be any spectators. That doesn't make sense," Hansen told Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last week.
Egypt will kick off the World Championship with a game against Chile at Cairo's arena on Wednesday. The expanded 32-team tournament will run from 13-31 January.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)