China, and Han Xu, are due to play the FIBA Women's Basketball Olympic Qualifier in Belgrade despite having to switch from a home venue because of fears over coronavirus ©Getty Images

The fourth of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments will offer 10 places for the Tokyo 2020 Games – twice as many as have been offered before - and China, despite disruption caused by the outbreak of coronavirus, are in the hunt.

Last week the head coach of China's national women's basketball team, Xu Limin, remained upbeat about his side's chances despite the fact that fears over the coronavirus had forced what was to have been a home qualifying group in Foshan to switch to Belgrade, which will now host two qualifying groups.

The competition which starts tomorrow and runs until Sunday (February 9) will involve 16 teams playing in three European venues – the Serbian capital, Ostend in Belgium and Bourges in France.

Following FIBA's decision to change the venue on January 27, citing "the safety of participating players", Xu insisted his team should relish the challenge, telling Xinhua Agency: "The experience will be beneficial to everybody."

 China will face Britain, South Korea and Spain.

As Olympic hosts, Japan have automatic entry to the event, although they will still play in the Ostend tournament.

That will make life extra tight for the other three teams in Belgium – Canada, Sweden and the hosts.

The United States have also booked their Tokyo 2020 spot already thanks to their victory in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 but will still participate in Group A in Belgrade, where the squeeze will be put on Nigeria – whose only previous Olympic appearance was at the Athens 2004 Games – Mozambique and the hosts, Serbia.    

Serbia will be hoping to make home advantage pay in the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying event that starts in Belgrade tomorrow ©FIBA
Serbia will be hoping to make home advantage pay in the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying event that starts in Belgrade tomorrow ©FIBA

 The hosts of the Qualifying Tournaments have always progressed to the Olympics in each of the previous three editions.

France – whose group in Bourges includes Puerto Rico, Brazil and Australia - know what it is like to make home advantage pay, having qualified in Nantes for the Rio 2016 Games.

The previous Olympic qualifying tournaments, which were open to winners of Continental Championships, took place in Madrid in 2008 and Ankara in 2012.

In 2008 Belarus and Latvia earned their first Olympic appearances through the qualifiers, and four years later Turkey and Croatia did the same.

The quartet of Sweden, Belgium, Mozambique and Puerto Rico are all seeking a first experience of the Olympics this time round.

Among the stand-out talents in action will be Breanna Stewart of the United States and home favourite Sonja Vasic in Belgrade’s Group A.

Group B will see Alba Torrens making a comeback for Spain and Han Xu playing for China in a quartet of teams that also includes South Korea and Great Britain.

France, meanwhile, will be looking to their guard Marine Johannes to inspire them on her former home court in Bourges.