Advertisement
  1. Sports

Tokyo, IOC officials say the Olympics are on, despite coronavirus concerns

Japan has confirmed almost 250 cases and reported its first death from the coronavirus on Thursday.
In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, a tourist wearing a mask poses for a photo with the Olympic rings in the background, at Tokyo's Odaiba district. Tokyo Olympic organizers repeated their message at the start of two days of meetings with the IOC: this summer's games will not be cancelled or postponed by the coronavirus spreading  neighboring China. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) [JAE C. HONG  |  AP]
In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, a tourist wearing a mask poses for a photo with the Olympic rings in the background, at Tokyo's Odaiba district. Tokyo Olympic organizers repeated their message at the start of two days of meetings with the IOC: this summer's games will not be cancelled or postponed by the coronavirus spreading neighboring China. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) [JAE C. HONG | AP]
Published Feb. 13

TOKYO — Tokyo Olympic organizers reiterated their message on Thursday at the start of two days of meetings with the International Olympic Committee: The 2020 Games will not be waylaid by the virus that is spreading from neighboring China.

“I would like to make it clear again that we are not considering a cancellation or postponement of the games. Let me make that clear," organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said, speaking through an interpreter to dozens of top IOC officials gathered in Tokyo.

The Olympics open in just over five months, and the torch relay begins next month in Japan — a clear signal the games are getting close.

Japan reported its first death from the coronavirus on Thursday, a development that will add to the jitters among organizers and IOC officials. Japan has confirmed almost 250 cases, including 218 from a cruse ship quarantined at the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo.

Sitting among the IOC officials this time was Dr. Richard Budgett, the IOC's medical and scientific director who does not always travel for these inspection visits.

Last week Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, said he was “seriously worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the games.”

He backed down a day later and said he was confident the games would go forward, which is the message this time.

On Wednesday, the virus forced the cancellation of a Formula One race set for April in Shanghai, which draws more than 100,000 over a race weekend.

The Hong Kong and Singapore rounds of the World Rugby Sevens Series were rescheduled from April to October on Thursday, with organizers saying the decision was taken “in response to continued health concerns relating to” the outbreak of the virus. Also, t he SportAccord conference, an event with close ties to the Olympic movement, will not take place in Beijing in April as scheduled, organizers said Thursday.

The virus has also wiped out the indoor world track and field championships in Nanjing, golf tournaments, soccer matches, and almost all sports in China, including Olympic qualifying events. It is also keeping Chinese athletes from traveling to qualify, which could put their presence in Tokyo in jeopardy.

Saburo Kawabuchi, a former Olympian and the so-called mayor of the Olympic Village that will house 11,000 athletes and thousands more staff members, suggested Tokyo's hot and humid summer would stop the virus.

“The biggest concern is the coronavirus and the infection," he said, speaking in Japanese. "Currently we don't have any clue when this issue will be resolved. Based on various pieces of information we receive, it seems that this virus is not as strong as the influenza virus. The virus is susceptible to humidity and heat. In Japan, we have the rainy season which could defeat the virus."

John Coates, an IOC member who heads the regular inspection visits to Tokyo, said he expected to receive reports on the virus from the Japanese government, the Tokyo city government, and local organizers in order to see the “necessary precautions that are being taken.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor answer questions during a meeting of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club Friday.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Brendan McKay (49) is seen in the dugout during the fifth inning against Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 07, 2019, at Tropicana Field.
  3. Washington quarterback Jacob Eason in action against Southern Cal in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
  4. Tampa Catholic senior Tony Watson, right, provided a huge spark during a 3-0 victory over Windermere Prep in a Class 3A region final Wednesday night.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays Japanese slugger Yoshi Tsutsugo in the  batting cage during batting practice on the Rays first full-squad workout at the Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd, on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 in Port Charlotte.
  6. A determination to play the position he loves has Tampa Bay Vipers defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock (49) still pushing at age 28. The Vipers play their home opener at 2 p.m. Saturday against Houston at Raymond James Stadium.
  7. Fans gather in Thunder Alley at Amalie Arena before the start of the 2019-2020 NHL season home opener between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers on Thursday, October 3, 2019, in Tampa.
  8. Hey kids, these are called ticket stubs. There was a time when you actually had to carry these around with you to get into ballgames and concerts. They're not as efficient as mobile apps, but they do have a certain sentimental value.
  9. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cedric Paquette shoots as Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury defends during the third period Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights won 5-3.
  10. After a standout sophomore season, expectations are even higher for Osceloa pitcher Corey Braun.
  11. Admiral Farragut pitcher Bre Benefield fires an early pitch during a Class 3A state semifinal against University Christian last season.
  12. IndyCar driver Oliver Askew poses for photos during IndyCar Media Day Auto Racing, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement