Thailand have withdrawn from the Tokyo 2020 wheelchair rugby qualifier ©IWRF

Thailand have withdrawn from next week's wheelchair rugby Paralympic qualification tournament after the country's Government banned travel to events outside of the country because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Following advice from the Ministry of Public Health, the Sports Authority of Thailand has cancelled all travel for athletes to overseas competitions amid concerns over the spread of the virus.

It has forced Thailand to pull out of the Tokyo 2020 wheelchair rugby Paralympic qualifier, which begins in Richmond in Canada on Wednesday (March 4).

The International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) has revised the tournament format following Thailand's withdrawal after deciding it was not possible to reallocate their place to another country.

The event is set to go ahead with seven teams instead of eight - Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.

They will contest a single round-robin group, replacing the two-pool format, and all teams will play each other once. 

The top four teams will progress to the semi-finals.

Thailand has reported 42 cases of the virus ©Getty Images
Thailand has reported 42 cases of the virus ©Getty Images

"I realise that a change to the tournament format on short notice may be disruptive to the teams attending; this is not a situation anyone at the IWRF or the Organising Committee would choose," said IWRF chief executive Eron Main.

"Unfortunately, it is necessary in this case. 

"The IWRF respects the decision of the Sport Authority of Thailand and we understand it was taken with the health and safety of their athletes in mind. 

"I am confident that the revised tournament format will provide a fair result and a good competition to determine the final two teams who will be invited to Tokyo."

The virus, given the official title of COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, has so far killed 2,933 people and infected more than 85,000 worldwide.

There are 42 cases of the virus in Thailand, 14 of those patients have recovered, and the country has not yet reported any deaths.