China have withdrawn from the World Cup of Darts following “an administrative technicality relating to their flight connection” and they will be replaced by Latvia.
An incredible logistical effort has seen 31 teams arrive in Austria to battle it out in Salzburg for the World Cup crown despite the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
However on Thursday, less than 24 hours before the tournament is due to get underway, the PDC released a statement confirming that China had become the second team to withdraw from the event, joining Singapore.
China’s pair Di Zhuang and Zizhao Zheng were set to make their World Cup debuts this weekend and, having received Austrian visas and returned negative PCR swab tests, they were due to land in Austria on Friday morning.
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But that will not be the case, and their place will be taken by Latvia, who will join Portugal as late replacements in the tournament. Portugal face Hungary having taken Singapore’s spot, while Latvia will now face Hong Kong on Friday night in the final match of the first round after a schedule tweak to allow Latvia’s pairing of Madars Razma and Janis Mustafejevs to arrive in Salzburg.
“We’re very disappointed that the Chinese team has been unable to make it to Salzburg,” PDC chief executive Matt Porter said in a statement.
“The two players and their management worked extremely hard to adhere to all the additional requirements that are needed for international travel at this time, flying domestically to obtain the required visa to enter Austria which they obtained only on Thursday after several weeks of paperwork submissions, and incurring significant personal cost in the process.
“They were denied boarding at Guangzhou airport on Friday morning local time on a minor administrative technicality which unfortunately there is no time for them to rectify if they were to be able to make it to Austria at any time on Friday.
“We thank the Latvian pairing for their willingness to be on stand-by until the last minute and look forward to welcoming them to the event.”
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Non-stop darts as truncated season comes to a close
Over the next four weeks, a relentless schedule will close the PDC and finalise the field for this year’s World Championships which remain scheduled for Alexandra Palace in mid-December.
On Friday the World Cup of Darts gets underway in Salzburg, while next Monday is the Grand Slam of Darts qualifier ahead of the final five days of Pro Tour action with the five-day Winter Series representing a last chance for many to secure their Tour card for next season.
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You can follow the action on Sky Sports with all six sessions across three days of the World Cup live, followed by nine days of Grand Slam of Darts action from Coventry, which begins on Monday November 16.
Following the Grand Slam, the action remains in Coventry with three days of Plays Championship Finals action and then the final qualifier for the World Championship.
Sky Sports Darts will keep you across all the action as the season reaches its climax. As well as all the action, The Darts Show podcast will catch up with all the players, discuss the talking points and get expert opinion from former world no 1 Colin Lloyd.
Don’t miss a dart at this weekend’s World Cup of Darts – the action gets underway from 12pm on Friday on Sky Sports Arena and we will have all six sessions as the new champions are crowned.
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