Despite Coronavirus Scare, Tokyo Olympics Still on Track to Start on Time

The IOC confirms there are no plans to move or delay the Olympics

Tokyo Olympics logo
The logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is seen in Tokyo.
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images
By Luis Paez-Pumar / February 15, 2020 2:54 pm

Although the coronavirus outbreak that began in China has already forced the cancellation of at least one much-anticipated event, the biggest sporting event of the summer is still slated to start on time. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are set to begin on July 24th, and with just five months to go until the opening ceremony, an official for the International Olympic Committee has confirmed that the original plans for the games are still proceeding as intended.

In a press conference on Friday, John Coates, the head of one of the IOC’s inspection teams, confirmed as much, saying that organizers still plan to begin Tokyo 2020 on time after conferring with the World Health Organization:

Certainly the advice we’re received externally from the WHO (World Health Organization) is that there’s no case for any contingency plans or cancelling the games or moving the games.

Despite Japan’s geographical proximity to China — as well as reports of more than 200 cases of the virus and at least one death in Japan proper — the IOC party line remains that the Olympics will go off without a hitch, though Coates confirmed that organizers are going to keep a watchful eye on Chinese athletes as the games draw nearer.

It’s not all good news for those who wish to attend the Olympics, however. Shigeru Omi, a former WHO official and infectious disease expert, tempered the good news by reiterating that there’s no set timetable for the end of the coronavirus outbreak, expressing caution over the spread of the disease ahead of the event:

Frankly speaking, there is no guarantee that the outbreak will come to an end before the Olympics because we have no scientific basis to be able to say that.

So it is meaningless to predict a timing when it may come to an end. We should assume that the virus has already been spreading in Japan. People should understand that we cannot only rely on border controls to prevent the spread of the disease.

As of now, the coronavirus outbreak has claimed the lives of at least 1,500 people in China, with lower numbers of cases popping up in countries around the globe. On Saturday, the first reported case of a death outside of Asia occurred in France; the 80-year-old Chinese tourist had been visiting Paris when he was hospitalized on January 25 with a lung infection.

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Read the full story at The Associated Press

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