Xu Limin is hoping to guide China's national women's basketball team to Tokyo 2020 next week ©Getty Images

The head coach of China's national women's basketball team, Xu Limin, remains upbeat about his side's chances at their Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade next week, despite it recently being relocated from home soil in Foshan due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

The event, one of two Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments now scheduled to take place in Serbia's capital from February 6 to 9, will see China face Britain, South Korea and Spain.

The top three teams in the round-robin tournament will secure their place at this year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The International Basketball Federation confirmed the change of venue on Monday (January 27), having "carefully evaluated the developments regarding the coronavirus outbreak and placing as main priority the safety of the participating players and team delegation members".

Although his side have lost home advantage, Xu insists the players should relish the challenge.

"The experience will be beneficial to everybody," he told Xinhua.

"We should cherish the opportunity and dig out as much potential as possible to achieve the goal of qualifying for the Olympics.

"It's a team that can go through toughness and difficulty, motivating everyone inside to play their best."

According to the latest figures, coronavirus has killed 170 people in China ©Getty Images
According to the latest figures, coronavirus has killed 170 people in China ©Getty Images

According to latest figures, coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, has killed 170 people in China.

"We thought about a possible change of competition site at the outset of the novel coronavirus outbreak," Xu said.

"I had laid out a detailed plan for matches to be played in Foshan.

"However, this will not be the case, thus disrupting our training and traveling rhythm."

Xu added that due to preparations for last year's Military World Games, held in Wuhan in October, and several players heading to overseas leagues, the team's training programme went ahead without a full roster for much of 2019.

"Now we have to lose our home advantage and face greater inconvenience due to the novel coronavirus outbreak," he said.

"What we have encountered over the past couple of months was unprecedented.

"We are in the most difficult period ever in history."

As well as the two Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in Belgrade, two others are set to be held - one in Bourges in France and one in Ostend in Belgium.

They will both be spread across the same dates.