Tokyo 2020 chiefs vow Olympics will go ahead, attempting to calm coronavirus fears

By Sports Desk February 13, 2020

Tokyo Olympics organisers have promised a "calm" response to the coronavirus epidemic and remain confident the Games will go ahead as planned.

Over 1,350 deaths have occurred in China, and a major spike in recorded cases on Wednesday has caused fresh concern over the spread of the virus.

A Japanese cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, has been quarantined because of the large number of confirmed cases on board, with over 200 passengers reported to be infected.

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said: "Regarding the coronavirus which started in Hubei province in China, there were irresponsible rumours. I would like to clearly reiterate that cancellation or postponement of the Tokyo Games are not being considered."

Mori added: "The [Japanese] government has also set up a task force for new coronavirus infectious diseases at the prime minister's office and they are implementing measures such as border control. The organising committee will deal [with the coronavirus] calmly in co-operation with the government."

International Olympic Committee co-ordination commission chairman John Coates said at the same event in Tokyo: "We have unexpected issues to deal with, for example the coronavirus outbreak is one event."

He said the objective ahead of the Olympics and Paralympics was "to ensure that all of the athletes and all of the people who come to Japan for the Games are not going to be affected and that all the necessary precautions are being taken".

Saburo Kawabuchi, who is mayor of the Olympic Village, attempted to calm fears surrounding the spread of the coronavirus and its possible impact on the Games.

He said: "As far as we know from various sources, we have heard that the virus is not stronger than influenza. Because the virus is weak against moisture and heat, Japan has the best season to kill the rainy season virus."

A number of major sporting events in China have been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus, including the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix and the athletics World Indoor Championships.

On Thursday, World Rugby announced it had rescheduled the Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series because of the outbreak.

Both had been due to take place in April but World Rugby said the Singapore event would now take place on October 10-11, and the Hong Kong tournament would be played on October 16-18.

"The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority," World Rugby said in a statement.

"This prudent decision has been taken in order to help protect the global rugby community and the wider public and was taken based on the World Health Organization and relevant public authority travel and health guidelines."

Related items

  • Coronavirus: Ben Ainslie believes Olympics postponement will be a relief to athletes Coronavirus: Ben Ainslie believes Olympics postponement will be a relief to athletes

    Ben Ainslie expects athletes set to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be relieved by the postponement.

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has pushed the Games back by 12 months due to the spread of coronavirus, which has infected over a million people worldwide.

    Sailor Ainslie, a four-time Olympic champion, has backed the decision and feels competitors will be grateful for the clarity the switch brings.

    He told Stats Perform: "If you were in the IOC's position and Tokyo's position it must have been an incredibly tough decision when you think about the scheduling, the preparations, dare I say it the commercial impact, although that shouldn't really be the main consideration I'm sure it would have been a big consideration.

    "The fact they came to a decision relatively early, I think they deserve some credit for that.  

    “I think it was absolutely the right decision. It was clearly going to be a massive risk as planned. Then if you look at a six-month delay, you're competing in the middle of the winter in Japan which isn't going to work for a lot of sports, so I absolutely agree with the decision.

    "What does it mean for the athletes and competitors? I think most of them, frankly, will just be relieved there's certainty.

    "It would have been a massive risk if they'd tried to continue and gambled on the virus clearing away in time for the games.

    "So, I think there'll be relief and they'll start now planning what does the next 18 months look like for them in terms of their programme.

    "We talk a lot about peaking in sport. They would have all been working up to peaking this summer. Now they are probably going to have to, not take their foot off the gas, but they're going to have to reschedule their programmes to make sure that they're then ramping back up for the games.

    "Also, what will the event schedule look like next year? It's unlikely there'll be that many events for the rest of this year, so how do they get their race practice up in 2021?

    "So, some challenges there, but if I were an Olympian I'd frankly be bloody relieved they've come to the right decision and it was going ahead still." 

  • Bogut 'still very keen' to play at Olympics despite postponement Bogut 'still very keen' to play at Olympics despite postponement

    Australia star Andrew Bogut is "still very keen" to play at the Olympics despite the Tokyo Games being pushed back until 2021.

    Bogut, 35, was expected to lead the Boomers at the Olympics this year, but the Games have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    It led to questions over Bogut's future, but the Olympics remain a goal for the veteran, an NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors in 2015.

    "I'm still very keen. Obviously the plans for me were to get to the Olympics this year and then reassess," he told SEN on Thursday.

    "That's been thrown out of the window. I'm still up in the air about exactly what I'm going to do and how I go about my journey getting there and all that, I still haven't decided one way or another.

    "I think it's going to be a moving parts type thing and I think the main priority right now is to get this pandemic squashed.

    "Then, we can all make real-world decisions about our jobs and our families and all that kind of stuff, but until that happens it's kind of senseless to make decisions based on not knowing when the future's going to be open slather again."

    Australia have never won a medal in men's basketball at the Olympics, but finished fourth at the Rio Games in 2016.

  • COVID-19 set to change Athletics for the next five years - Boldon COVID-19 set to change Athletics for the next five years - Boldon

    The impact of the Tokyo 2020 postponement, as well as others means track and field athletes can look forward to a tough four years to come, so says former Trinidad & Tobago sprinter and Olympic medallist Ato Boldon.

    According to Boldon, the movement of the Olympics to the Summer of 2021 is likely to push the World Championships to 2022, sparking a domino effect on other major games.

    “It means that we may be in for four championship years in a row. We know that the summer Olympics are going to be in 2021. I think they are going to push the World Championships over to 2022 which means that it then conflicts with the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup, and then we get back on stream with the regular schedule of 2023 World Championships and 2024 Olympics in Paris,” said Boldon.

    These movements, Boldon believes, won’t reset the athletic calendar for another five years, but sees no real alternative to the unprecedented action of putting an Olympics in an odd year.

    Boldon has an interest in what the next few years of athletics holds as the coach of rising star, Briana Williams.

    Williams was set to contest for a place in her first Olympics and in a recent SportsMax.tv interview, Boldon said the delay was good for his athlete, who would have a year to get stronger.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.