While organizers preparing for the Tokyo Olympics are keeping a close eye on the coronavirus outbreak both in China and across the world, they aren’t altering any plans.
“We can confirm that Tokyo 2020 remains on track,” IOC inspection team head John Coates said Friday, via the Associated Press, adding that he was 100 percent confident that the games would start as scheduled on July 24.
As of Friday afternoon, the virus has infected more than 66,000 people and killed more than 1,500, according to the New York Times. The majority of cases are in China — the outbreak started in Wuhan — though it has spread to at least 25 other countries in recent weeks, including Australia, Canada, the United States and much of Western Europe.
The virus has caused several sporting events to relocate from China, too, including boxing matches, Olympic soccer qualifiers and multiple LPGA and PGA Tour Series-China events.
According to the New York Times, Japan has more than 200 confirmed cases of the virus.
Yet Coates insisted that they have no contingency plan for either cancelling or moving the games.
“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,” said Shigeru Omi, a former World Health Organization regional director and infectious disease expert, via the Associated Press.
“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.”
Coates, however, did confirm that they will be keeping a closer eye on the Chinese athletes when they make the trek over to Japan for the games. The team is expected to field around 600 athletes, per the report, which is one of the largest delegations among countries competing in the Olympics.
He did not, though, provide any specifics.
“We continue also to monitor, particularly the Chinese that will be coming here,” Coates said, via the Associated Press. “You’ll find that the Chinese teams are mostly out of China, that’s the athletes and officials.”
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