The ongoing ICC Women's Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 in Zimbabwe has been abandoned due to the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant - Omicron.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) made the announcement after several countries banned air travel from Zimbabwe.
The tournament, scheduled to be played till 5 December, would have decided the final three spots for the ICC Women's World Cup in New Zealand next year as well as the remaining two berths in the next cycle of the ICC Women's Championship.
However, with the emergence of the latest Covid-19 variant in South Africa and the introduction of travel restrictions from a number of African countries, including the host country Zimbabwe, the ICC has decided to call off the event, with the qualification slots decided as per team rankings, in keeping with the tournament's playing conditions.
Hence, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies will now progress to the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, with Sri Lanka and Ireland occupying the other slots for the 2022-25 cycle of the ICC Women's Championship.
Expressing disappointment on the abandonment of the event, ICC Head of Events Chris Tetley said, “We are incredibly disappointed to have to cancel the remainder of this event but with travel restrictions from a number of African countries being imposed at such short notice, there was a serious risk that teams would be unable to return home.”
"We have explored a number of options to allow us to complete the event but it isn’t feasible and we will fly the teams out of Zimbabwe as soon as possible. Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies will now qualify for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2022 by virtue of their rankings, whilst Sri Lanka and Ireland will also join them in the next cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship," he added.
Play in two of the three matches scheduled for Saturday – Zimbabwe v Pakistan and USA v Thailand – started as scheduled but the third fixture of the day, between the West Indies and Sri Lanka, could not be staged as a member of the Sri Lanka team support staff tested positive for COVID-19.
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