IOC rules out shifting Tokyo Olympics despite coronavirus fears

Tokyo, Feb 15 : The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is not considering moving the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and has no "contingency plans" despite concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, its coordination commission head Johan Coates has said.

"There is no case for any contingency plans or for moving the games," Coates said in a press conference in the Japanese capital on Friday after a meeting of the IOC coordination commission with the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, reports Efe news.

He categorically denied discussing any change in the program of the Games, which are set to kick off in Tokyo in less than six months. The COVID-19 outbreak that began in neighbouring China has spread to Japan, with one death already registered in the country.

"We continue to work closely with the World Health Organisation and monitor the situation of the Chinese athletes," said Coates, referring to athletes travelling to participate in qualifying events for the Olympics.

The outbreak of the viral disease was high on the agenda in the coordination meeting between the organisers and the IOC, which insisted that it had full confidence in measures taken by the Japanese authorities to deal with the epidemic.

The IOC representative acknowledged the difficulties Chinese athletes could face in participating in upcoming international competitions as well as the Tokyo Games, but added that many of the athletes were already abroad in training for the Olympics and should not have problems.

A special case is that of athletes or people from Hubei -- the Chinese province at the epicentre of the outbreak -- who could be denied entry in Japan, as currently the Japanese authorities have banned the entry of residents of the province or people who have travelled there in the last two weeks.

"We respect the measures taken by the authorities here," Coates said, insisting that it was for the Japanese governments to take a decision in this regard.

On Thursday, Japan reported the first death due to COVID-19 within the country, that of an 80-year-old woman who lived in Kanagawa, south of Tokyo.

Around 250 people in the country have tested positive for the disease so far, most of them passengers or crew of a cruise ship that arrived in the city of Yokohama and remains in quarantine.

(IANS)

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IOC rules out shifting Tokyo Olympics despite coronavirus fears