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Coronavirus: Tokyo 2020 Olympics could be postponed?

_111116261_seikohashimotogettySeiko Hashimoto says Tokyo 2020 organisers are “doing all we can” to make sure the Games go ahead as planned


Coronavirus: Tokyo 2020 could be postponed to end of year – Japan’s Olympic minister

March 3, 2020

Japan’s Olympic minister says the Tokyo 2020 Games could be postponed from the summer until later in the year amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

In a response to a question in Japan’s parliament, Seiko Hashimoto said Tokyo’s contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “calls for the Games to be held within 2020”.

She added that “could be interpreted as allowing a postponement”.

The Games are due to be held from 24 July to 9 August.

“We are doing all we can to ensure that the Games go ahead as planned,” Hashimoto added.

Under the hosting agreement the right to cancel the Games remains with the IOC.

IOC president Thomas Bach says his organisation remains “very confident with regard the success” of the Games in Tokyo.

“I would like to encourage all the athletes to continue their preparations with great confidence and full steam,” added the German.

A number of high-profile sporting events have already been cancelled or postponed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, including the World Athletics Indoor Athletics Championships and the Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled for 19 April.

Coronavirus, which originated in China, has spread to more than 60 countries and claimed more than 3,000 lives so far.

The IOC executive board met in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday and in a statement “expressed its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 taking place from 24 July to 9 August”.

It said a “joint task force” was started in mid-February, involving the IOC, Tokyo 2020 organisers, the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and the World Health Organization.

The executive board added that it “appreciates and supports the measures being taken, which constitute an important part of Tokyo’s plans to host safe and secure Games”.

“We will continue to support the athletes and their NOCs with regular updates of information, which we will provide,” Bach added.

ca-times.brightspotcdn.comThe Olympic rings outside the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, where leaders discussed the Tokyo Games and the threat of the coronavirus outbreak

Japanese official raises possibility of postponing 2020 Summer Olympics

March 3, 2020

Even as Olympic leaders reiterated their confidence that the coronavirus outbreak will not force the cancellation of the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Games, a Japanese official suggested the host city has a contractual right to postpone the competition until the end of the year.

The dueling pronouncements came Tuesday as the International Olympic Committee’s executive board convened for a regularly scheduled meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. Board members devoted much of the day to discussions on the matter.

We remain very confident with regard to the success of these Olympic Games,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.

Half a world away, a question in the Japanese parliament prompted that country’s Olympic minister to discuss nuances of the contract that all host cities must sign when they are awarded the Games.

The IOC has the right to cancel the Games only if they are not held during 2020,” Seiko Hashimoto told parliament, according to the Associated Press. “This can be interpreted to mean the Games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year.”

Hashimoto added that officials “are making the utmost effort so that we don’t have to face that situation.”

Since the COVID-19 virus was detected in China late last year, more than 92,000 people have been infected and 3,100 have died worldwide. Still, as of early Tuesday, the World Health Organization had yet to classify the outbreak as a pandemic because it has severely affected only a handful of countries.

Some health experts have questioned the wisdom of holding any mass public gathering in light of the outbreak; others have said it is too early to make any such decisions,

The modern Olympics have been canceled only three times, during the first and second World Wars. In other instances, they have endured through various concerns, including the spread of the Zika virus around the time of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

This time, there is concern because the coronavirus has caused events such as international soccer games and a major car race to be postponed, moved or canceled.

Tokyo is expecting more than 10,000 athletes and an estimated 600,000 tourists from around the globe. Organizers have devoted billions of dollars to venue construction and other preparations but would likely have insurance to cover cancellation for unforeseeable reasons.

American broadcasters said Tuesday they also would be covered in case of cancellation.

We try to anticipate for big events what might happen so that we’re protected there, and we also have insurance for any expenses we make,” Comcast chairman Brian Roberts, adding: “We’re optimistic the Olympics are going to happen.”

As for postponement, any date later this year or into 2021 could conflict with world championships and other competitions already scheduled. There is an additional, historical perspective.

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 was relatively light when it first appeared during the winter and spring. But after a dormant summer, it returned with greater force in the fall, ultimately infecting as many as 500-million people and killing 20 million to 50 million worldwide.

Last month, the IOC formed a task force that includes representatives from the WHO, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the Japanese government.

Of course we will continue this regular consultation with this joint task force to be able to address any developments which may occur,” Bach said.

Olympic leaders dismissed suggestions of a postponement, repeating their expectation that the Tokyo Games will begin as scheduled on July 24.

You can come up with all sorts of speculation, all sorts of doomsday scenarios,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters. “We would prefer to stick to the advice from the experts.”


March 5, 2020 - Posted by | Japan | , ,

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