Concerns mount in Tokyo over impact of coronavirus on Olympics
The local organising committee for this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo has admitted that the spread of the deadly coronavirus is a major concern ahead of the event.
The flu-like virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, but has spread to other parts of the country and abroad, resulting in up to 500 deaths.
The World Health Organisation has declared a global health emergency and there had been 20 confirmed cases in Japan by Monday of this week.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics run from 24 July to 9 August.
Speaking at a meeting in Tokyo with the organisers of the ensuing Paralympics, Toshiro Muto (pictured), the chief executive of Tokyo 2020, said: “I am seriously concerned... I hope this will be resolved as soon as possible.”
He added: “We are extremely worried in the sense that the spread of the infectious virus could pour cold water on momentum for the games.”
Earlier this week, the Tokyo 2020 organisers dismissed reports that the Olympics might have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
However, they said they would “work closely with the International Olympic Committee and other concerned bodies to draw any countermeasures whenever necessary.”
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, added that the government would keep in contact with all relevant groups to ensure the spread would not affect the Olympics.
Saburo Kawabuchi, the mayor of the Tokyo 2020 Athletes’ Village, which will be welcoming around 11,000 athletes in July, said he hopes for a “smooth Olympics,” adding: "We will do our everything we can to protect the athletes to allow them to produce their best performances.”