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

  • In Honour of: Danny McFarlane, the man who was never afraid to try In Honour of: Danny McFarlane, the man who was never afraid to try

    There are many famous quotes that talk about the inevitability of change. 

    They all say, “change is inevitable” and I agree. 

    After all, in this fast-paced world, things are constantly developing, constant changes in technology means we are always having to adjust to keep pace with a rapidly evolving world.  

    Those who can adapt are often more likely to succeed while those who can’t often get left behind. 

    In my own field, the advent of social media and the tools that assist with easy dissemination of information have meant a change in attitude and approach to how content is created for traditional media. 

    But in my field and many others, there are people who constantly resist change for whatever reason. 

    I must admit, change isn’t always good and so it can sometimes be difficult to determine when change is necessary as opposed to when to maintain the status quo. 

    In sports, many athletes are faced with this dilemma. As a teenager, which sport should I focus on? I think I could be world-class at a couple and then at the highest level what’s my best position or what is my best event? Those are questions many athletes constantly ask themselves. 

    The answers are never easy to find and that is exactly why when an athlete makes drastic career alterations and still finds more success they should be lauded. 

    I think about former Jamaican hurdler Danny McFarlane, the 2004 Olympic 400 metre hurdles silver medallist.  

    Before Danny was a hurdler, he was a more than competent flat 400 metres athlete. 

    By the time he ran his first ever race over 400m hurdles, in April of 2003, Danny was already an Olympic 400 metres finalist, an Olympic mile relay silver medallist, four times an IAAF World Championship mile relay silver medallist, an IAAF World Indoor mile relay champion and also 400 metres bronze medallist. 

    To say he had carved out a solid career is an understatement. 

    But clearly Danny felt he could have achieved more from the sport of track and field. However, his personal best at 400 metres was 44.90 seconds, set in 1995. 

    If he wasn’t going to run much faster, which was unlikely at 31 years old when he changed events, then it’s unlikely he would have done much more than appear on a few Jamaican relay teams. 

    So, he took the bold step despite little to no hurdling experience. 

    I won’t chart the race by race improvements he made between April 2003 and his Olympic silver medal performance at the Athens Games in 2004 but I will say his rise was meteoric. 

    In his first year of contesting the event, he won the Jamaican title, improved to 48.30 seconds, and finished fourth at the World Championships in Paris France. 

    And so, it wasn’t a massive surprise that he was a contender when the Olympic Games rolled around in 2004. 

    With eventual champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic and American James Carter favored to battle for Gold, many felt McFarlane was running for bronze. 

    But the 32-year-old timed it perfectly, running a personal best 48.00 seconds to win his semi-final and when Carter blew up down the stretch in the final, McFarlane pounced and captured a deserved silver. 

    My recollection of Caribbean voice Lance Whittaker, “and McFarlane looks as if he will get silver – and he does,” as his voice raised almost in shock.   

    One thing we all remember from that Danny McFarlane performance is that it was far from perfect. 

    His 400 metre hurdles journey from 2003 to the point of his retirement as a 40-year-old in 2012 was characterized by less than perfect hurdling. 

    While he improved over time, for the most part, his hurdling could be described as jumping. 

    But he jumped his way into the hearts of Jamaicans who adored him because of his willingness to try something new, to embrace change, to fight, and when technique failed to turn to heart. 

    For all that and more, Danny McFarlane isn’t just a lesson for 2004 but a lesson for life. 

    Danny isn’t just a lesson for track and field or just for sport but a lesson for all endeavors.  Danny, we salute you and say thank you for teaching us all a valuable lesson.  

     

  • Just let women be women - IAAF gender policies continue to reek of discrimination Just let women be women - IAAF gender policies continue to reek of discrimination

     In general, the idea of what a woman should look has become a problematic issue, increasingly within our current societal framework.  In athletics, it seems to be no different.

    Women’s tennis legend Serena Williams once said: “I think of all the girls who could become top athletes but quit sports because they’re afraid of having too many defined muscles, being made fun of, or called unattractive.”

    While not implicitly stated, appearances are also judged and discriminated against in athletics.  Women with conditions like hyperandrogenism tend to have bigger muscles due to high natural levels of testosterone and are as such, in my opinion, singled out for discrimination by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules.  Despite the fact that it is how they were born.

      In fact, women who compete with such conditions can be subject to gender verification testing should ‘suspicions’ arise. Hyperandrogenism or androgen excess is a medical condition characterized by excessive levels of testosterone in the body and the condition affects approximately 1% of elite female athletes.  Such embarrassing stipulations not only serve as a barrier to some women competing but also as a deterrent to getting involved in the first place.

    In a recent chat with the Olympic Channel, Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah credited fellow athlete Dutee Chand for helping put India on the global athletics stage.

    Thompson-Herah gushed over the idea of athletes from other countries vying to claim a space on the global athletics map, in hopes of proudly representing themselves and their country.

    “As an athlete, I think that is really exciting and great to see them coming in to deliver and perform well,” said the Olympic champion.

    Having come from an impoverished community to become one of the world’s best, Thompson-Herah knows all about challenges.  Even now she battles with a nagging Achilles injury that has affected her for a good portion of her career.

    For athletes like Chand, the list of obstacles can be even longer.  Thompson-Herah pointed to the athlete’s first language as another likely barrier to perhaps sharing nuggets of wisdom.

    “English is not the native language for her,” Thompson-Herah explained.

    “It is kind of hard to translate everything to another person who doesn't speak English, but Dutee is getting to know more and getting better each time.”

    But in her short time competing as an athlete she has overcome an even bigger one.  One that were it not for her grit and determination, could have meant the end of her competing.

    In June 2014, after she won two gold medals at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in the 200 metres and 4 × 400 m relays, Chand was dropped from the 2014 Commonwealth Games contingent at the last minute after the Athletic Federation of India revealed that hyperandrogenism made her ineligible to compete as a female athlete.  Chand challenged the gender testing policies and on July 26, 2015, the court ruled in favour.  The IAAF, as a result, temporarily suspended the hyperandrogenism regulations.

    Consequently, she qualified for the 2016 Olympic games without having to alter her natural hormone levels.

    The issue was, however, far from concluded. After further analysis in April 2018, the IAAF announced new eligibility regulations for female runners setting an upper testosterone limit, which applied to the 400m, 800m, and 1500m events.  Chand was left unaffected by the revised regulations and has her eyes set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.  The rule amendment did, however, impact another woman, South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya. 

    The three-time World Championship gold medallist and two times Olympic champion could no longer compete in her preferred 800m event after the new IAAF "differences of sex development" rules that required athletes with specific disorders of sex development, testosterone levels of 5 nmol/L and above, and certain androgen sensitivity, take medication to lower their testosterone levels.  Semenya, like Chand, contested the decision but lost the case at both the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and appeal at the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.  She has considered switching to the 200m event.

    September is Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) awareness month.  PCOS is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age and is one of the conditions that can affect these elite athletes.  When women have PCOS, they may have excess male hormone (androgen) levels.

    Sports governing bodies should accept the fact that some women naturally produce higher levels of testosterone and those who do should be allowed to compete. When will women just be allowed to be women?

    Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

     

  • Five-time Olympian Cuthbert-Flynn creates history with ministerial appointment Five-time Olympian Cuthbert-Flynn creates history with ministerial appointment

    Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn created history on Friday after becoming the first Olympic medallist to be appointed a Jamaican government minister.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.