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Could the Coronavirus Mean that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are Cancelled?

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24 January, 2020
Occasionally, a huge worldwide virus comes along that changes how we well go about our business.
So far, there hasn’t been a major outbreak of the so-called coronavirus on a global scale, however it is being reported that there are now two cases that have been discovered in Japan, including one in Tokyo where thousands of Chinese tourists will arrive to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
And that adds to the devastation witnessed in China, and particularly the city of Wuhan, where more than 20 people are dead and hundreds more infected, according to reports in the country.
Sporting events in the country, including Olympic qualifiers in football, boxing and athletics, have either been relocated or cancelled, while Great Britain’s basketball team – due to fly out to China for their own qualifying – are likely to be advised not to travel.
Anybody that can remember as far back as 2002/03 may well remember the SARS outbreak, which killed nearly 800 people during a pandemic that spread worldwide from its Chinese origin.
The nature of the disease, and just how quickly it spreads, will have major implications in the weeks and months to come.
We are still months shy of the Olympic Games in Japan, but with the number of coronavirus cases found there likely to increase significantly, there are concerns that the Olympic Committee may have to consider alternate plans for arguably the biggest sporting occasion in the calendar.
The hope is that the outbreak can be nullified as quickly as possible with effective treatment and periods of quarantine for the infected, however the concern is that the virus is killing healthy young people as well as the old and infirm.
Anyone who can remember SARS will know how quickly it can spread, and as such the eyes of the world are on Japan as they look to minimise the spread there.
Concern for the safety of the Olympic Games is growing, and especially so if the virus remains active in the weeks prior to the event, with millions travelling into the country from around the globe.
For now, Olympic organisers are sensibly remaining calm. “Countermeasures against infectious diseases constitute an important part of our plans to host a safe and secure games,” the Tokyo 2020 committee have said in a statement.
However, the president of the Japanese Association for Infectious diseases, Kazuhiro Tateda, warned:
“We have to be very careful about what kind of infectious diseases will appear at the Tokyo Olympics.
“At these kinds of mass gatherings, the risks increase that infectious diseases and resistant bacteria can be carried in.”
The major concern – alongside the threat to life – is that the integrity of the Olympic Games will be affected if major athletes withdraw with safety concerns, as they did at Rio 2016 in the wake of the Zika virus, or that the Olympics will have to be moved from Tokyo to somewhere in the Western world, as was the case with the Women’s World Cup football back in 2003.

February 1, 2020 - Posted by | Japan | ,

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