The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Saturday called off the qualifiers for next year's Women's ODI World Cup ( March 4 to April 3 in New Zealand) following the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant, Omicron. (More Cricket News)
"The ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 in Harare has been called off due to the introduction of travel restrictions from a number of African countries, including the host country Zimbabwe, following the breakout of a new COVID-19 variant in southern Africa," the world governing body of cricket said in a release.
On Friday, the International Hockey Federation suspended the Women’s Junior World Cup in South Africa. The ninth edition of the biennial tournament was scheduled to start on December 5.
The qualifiers in Zimbabwe, scheduled to be played till December 5, 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 for the next cycle of the ICC Women's Championship.
As a result of the cancellation, now three teams -- Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies -- will now progress to the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup, with Sri Lanka and Ireland occupying the other slots for the 2022-25 cycle of the ICC Women's Championship.
"The qualifiers will now be decided according to the team rankings as detailed in the tournament playing conditions. Therefore, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies will now progress to the event in New Zealand," it added.
The announcement came soon after a member of the Sri Lanka team support staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Two of the three matches scheduled for Saturday – Zimbabwe vs Pakistan and USA vs Thailand – had started but the third one between the West Indies and Sri Lanka could not be staged.
"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," said Chris Tetley, the ICC Head of Events.
Australia, England, India, South Africa, New Zealand (hosts), Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh are the teams qualified for the Women's ODI World Cup 2022.