People are wearing masks following the outbreak of the virus.
People are wearing masks following the outbreak of the virus. Image Credit: AP

Kuala Lumpur: All home games for Chinese clubs in the AFC Champions League’s group stage in February and March will be rescheduled and played as away fixtures, officials said Wednesday, due to the deadly coronavirus sweeping the country.

The change affects four Chinese clubs and their South Korean opponents.

The Asian Football Confederation said the decision was a “precautionary measure to ensure the safety and well-being of all participating players and teams”.

The virus has killed more than 130 people, infected thousands and spread to some 15 countries.

A number of international sporting events scheduled for China have been either cancelled or moved out of the country as a result of the virus.

In Group E, K League 1 side FC Seoul were supposed to travel to Beijing on February 11 to play Beijing FC, but the game will now be played in Seoul on that date.

In Group F, Ulsan Hyundai FC’s away match against Shanghai Shenhua on February 18 will become a home game.

In Group G, Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Guangzhou Evergrande will meet on February 12 in Suwon, south of Seoul, instead of Guangzhou.

In Group H, Shanghai SIPG will travel to South Korea to play Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on February 19.

The AFC said it will make a decision on the return fixtures in March.