Sports

Tokyo 2020: Olympic organisers ‘seriously concerned’ by coronavirus spread

Olympic organisers are “seriously concerned” about the spread of coronavirus and the impact it could have on the Tokyo Games this summer.

Several qualification events have already been impacted due to the virus.

Tokyo Organising Committee chief executive Toshiro Muto hopes it will be “eradicated as quickly as possible”.

“We are extremely worried in the sense that the spread of the infectious virus could pour cold water on momentum for the Games,” said Muto.

More than 24,300 cases of the virus have been recorded in China and 490 people have died, with 10 cases also confirmed on a quarantined Japanese cruise ship.

Two people have died of the disease outside of mainland China – one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak as a global health emergency but said it did not yet constitute a “pandemic”, or the worldwide spread of a new disease.

Japanese government officials, including prime minister Shinzo Abe, say they will work hard to minimise any impact on the Games, which start on 24 July.

Saburo Kawabuchi, mayor of the Athletes’ Village where an expected 11,000 athletes will stay, says he hopes for a “smooth Olympics”.

“We will do our everything we can to protect the athletes to allow them to produce their best performances,” he added.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it is in contact with the WHO and its own medical experts and has confidence the relevant authorities will take “all necessary measures to address the situation”.

An IOC spokesperson said: “Countermeasures against infectious diseases constitute an important part of Tokyo 2020’s plans to host a safe and secure Games.

“Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organisations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organisations.

“Preparations for Tokyo 2020 continue as planned and we look forward to returning for the next Project Review in February.”

A number of sporting events in China have been cancelled or postponed, including the World Athletics Indoor Championships, Chinese domestic football season and golf’s LPGA event on Hainan Island.

Some countries have also introduced entry restrictions on Chinese athletes, however the Badminton World Federation said on Wednesday it would not be doing so for its global events. BBC