The Women's Junior Hockey World Cup has been postponed due to an outbreak of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa ©FIH

The Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup, scheduled to be held in South Africa next month, has been postponed due to the outbreak of a new coronavirus variant in the country.

The tournament was scheduled to be held in Potchefstroom from December 5 to 16, although the International Hockey Federation (FIH) is hopeful it can be rearranged.

"The safety of everyone involved in the FIH events is an absolute priority," said the organisation’s chief executive Thierry Weil.

"Additionally, many countries, including from some of the participating teams, have now strongly increased their travel restrictions with South Africa, including halting flights.

"Therefore, it simply isn’t possible to maintain this event as planned. This is hugely disappointing.

"An FIH Junior World Cup is so important for the development of young players and it was due to be the first time that an FIH World Cup was due to take place on African soil.

"On behalf of FIH, I’d like to thank all teams for their understanding as well as the local organisers for their great work and collaboration."

The previous edition of the tournament was held in Santiago in Chile in 2016, when Argentina overcame The Netherlands 4-2, to win the event for a second time.

Sixteen teams were due to take part in Potchefstroom, with the tournament open to players under 21 years of age.

The South African variant is known as B.1.1.529, and although cases have mainly been detected in the country, they have also been detected in Hong Kong, Israel, Botswana and Belgium.

The World Health Organisation is scheduled to hold a special meeting today to discuss the new variant.

Several countries have already either banned flights from South Africa or asked returning travellers to quarantine.

The Men's Junior Hockey World Cup is currently taking place in Bhubaneswar, India, and is scheduled to conclude on December 5.

England withdrew from the event last month citing a number of "COVID-19 related concerns."