(ATR) The IOC says there is no need to cancel or move the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to the coronavirus outbreak.
John Coates and Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori in May (Tokyo 2020)
Citing the advice the IOC has received from the World Health Organization (WHO), the head of the IOC Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020 John Coates says “there’s no case for any contingency plans”.
The WHO confirmed on Friday that it is “constantly in touch” with the IOC to provide technical advice on risk management but that it is the IOC’s decision on whether to go on with the Games.
Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said in a press briefing “at this stage there have been no specific discussion or no specific decision made” regarding the Olympics or any other major events scheduled for the coming months.
Coates and his inspection team, along with Tokyo 2020 organizers, wrapped up a two-day project review on Friday in Tokyo with a news conference that was focused almost solely on the coronavirus issue.
So far, there have been almost 1,400 deaths reported in China from the virus, with about 64,000 people worldwide infected.
There has been one confirmed death from the virus in Japan, which hosts the Olympics in just over five months.
Coates did admit that the IOC faces a “very big communications job” in allaying fears over the epidemic in the run-up to the Games, which begin July 24.
According to AFP
, he says the IOC will send out information packs to reassure athletes that there is no danger in coming into contact with Chinese athletes during the Games.
The IOC doesn’t want a repeat of Rio 2016, when concerns over the mosquito-borne Zika virus led several top athletes to pull out despite the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States saying the risk of contracting the disease was very low.
China is expected to send a team of more than 600 athletes to Tokyo but that number could drop as Chinese athletes are unable to participate in Olympic qualifying events.
The country’s women’s handball team has already pulled out of an Olympic qualifier in Montenegro and will miss the Games.
Coates said on Friday that most of the Chinese athletes and coaches preparing for the Olympics were now out of China and in other countries. That could help in terms of avoiding a quarantine to get into Japan for qualifying events.
Written by Gerard Farek
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