The Men's Handball World Championship is set to take place without spectators ©IHF

The International Handball Federation (IHF) Men's Handball World Championship will now be held without spectators due to the threat of spreading COVID-19.

Only media members and embassy representatives of participating teams will be allowed to attend matches in Egypt, following talks between the IHF and the Egyptian Government.

IHF President Hassan Moustafa met with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly yesterday to discuss tightening restrictions.

Hala Zayed, the Egyptian Minister of Health and Population, and Ashraf Sobhy, the Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports, were also in attendance.

All four considered the current COVID-19 situation, as well as the concerns raised by players, before deciding it would be best to proceed without spectators being allowed at the IHF's flagship event.

The European Handball Players Union had raised concerns over previous plans to allow venues to be up to 20 per cent full in a letter sent to Moustafa last week.

"All parties came to the agreement that the 27th IHF Men's World Championship shall be held without spectators in order to keep the stakeholders involved in the event safe and healthy," the IHF said.

Egypt is set to host the Men's Handball World Championship for the second time - the first being in 1999 ©Getty Images
Egypt is set to host the Men's Handball World Championship for the second time - the first being in 1999 ©Getty Images

Tickets had already been sold for matches, but those who bought them will be refunded.

A full bubble concept is still to be implemented, with hotels exclusively reserved for those playing an active role in the World Championship and arenas divided into different zones.

The first to be played with 32 teams, the 2021 Men's Handball World Championship is scheduled to begin on Wednesday (January 13) and run until January 31.

Four venues - the Cairo Stadium Sports Hall, the New Capital Sports Hall, the Dr Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall and the Borg Al Arab Sports Hall - will host 108 games between them.

COVID-19 cases had been rising in Egypt in later stages of 2020, and the nation has now recorded more than 149,000 cases and 8,100 deaths.