Japan yesterday vowed to continue preparing to host this year’s Olympics as the outbreak of the coronavirus caused further disruption to international sport.
In Tokyo, Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto dismissed comments by an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member suggesting the outbreak could lead to the Games being cancelled.
“All we can do is to prepare to host the Games with peace of mind and to be recognised by the IOC,” she said.
The latest international sports event to be scrapped is the short-track speedskating world championships in Seoul, South Korea from March 13-15.
It comes a day after South Korea saw the postponement of the world team table tennis championships in Busan from March 22-29 to the provisional dates of June 21-28.
The Chinese Under-18 basketball team meanwhile called off its participation in a tournament in Germany in April and its place will be taken by Slovenia.
The German Open international badminton tournament next week in Muelheim an der Ruhr was also called off.
Alpine ski World Cup races are, however, to go ahead in northern Italy at the weekend despite the outbreak of the coronavirus in northern regions of the country, the international ski federation FIS.
A women’s super-g race is scheduled Saturday and an alpine combined event on Sunday at La Thuile in the Alps in the extreme north-west close to the border with France.
The coronavirus outbreak is playing havoc with the international sports calendar.
Many sports have now cancelled, suspended or postponed events, leading to questions on the viability of the Tokyo Olympics.
The IOC’s longest-serving member, Dick Pound, said in an interview with the Associated Press that was published on Tuesday the outbreak could lead to the cancellation of the Olympics.
The IOC has a three-month window to decide the fate of the 2020 Games, he said. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said Pound’s comments were “personal views.”
“I have emails from IOC members in charge of the Tokyo Olympics telling me to work hard in preparing for the event,” she told reporters.
About 11,000 athletes are expected to participate in the Olympics from July 24 to August 9.
The Paralympics kick off on August 25. Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a news conference, “I have not heard anything about changes in schedules from the organisers.
We would like to steadily prepare to host the Games.”
The coronavirus outbreak that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has killed more than 2,700 people and infected more than 80,000 worldwide.
On Wednesday, Japan reported more confirmed cases of the infection,
raising the total to 891, including 705 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked organisers of big sports and cultural events to cancel or postpone them for the next two weeks.
“The next two weeks is crucial for Japan to prevent the spread of the outbreak,” the premier said.
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