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Tokyo 2020: Olympic preparations to ‘continue as planned’ despite coronavirus outbreak

Preparations for Tokyo 2020 will “continue as planned” despite the coronavirus outbreak, according to the International Olympic Committee.

The coronavirus has caused the deaths of 213 people in China, with more than 10,000 cases reported worldwide.

Olympic chiefs say they have full confidence in the authorities in Japan to “address the situation”.

Several qualification events have been impacted due to the virus, which is now a global health emergency.

Two coronavirus cases confirmed in UK
The only event to involve British athletes so far is a women’s basketball qualification tournament in February, which has been moved from China to Serbia.

The British Olympic Association told BBC Sport it will “monitor the situation” regarding the spread of the virus and will remain in close communication with both the Tokyo 2020 organisers and the IOC.

They said a planned trip to Tokyo in March by Britain’s Olympic bosses will still go ahead.

However, the British Paralympic Association has cancelled a recce to China to prepare for the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics because of coronavirus.

A spokesman said: “Based on Government travel advice ParalympicsGB has postponed a planned visit to Beijing which formed part of our ongoing preparations for the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games.

“This visit will now be rescheduled when the travel advice is that it is safe to travel and we do not anticipate any direct impact on our plans to take a best prepared team to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games.”

Before Rio 2016, there were significant concerns about the Zika virus, which prompted several athletes to pull out of participating in the Games.

There have been mounting fears that coronavirus could derail the final preparations for Tokyo, and the Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike warned this week that: “We must firmly tackle the new coronavirus to contain it, or we are going to regret it.”

However, the IOC said a key part of Tokyo’s plans include ‘countermeasures against infectious diseases’ and will assess whether any of those are necessary.

A spokesperson said: “Countermeasures against infectious diseases constitute an important part of Tokyo 2020’s plans to host a safe and secure Games. Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organisations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organisations.

“In addition, the IOC is in contact with the World Health Organisation, as well as its own medical experts.

“Preparations for Tokyo 2020 continue as planned and we look forward to returning for the next Project Review in February.

“We have full confidence that the relevant authorities, in particular in Japan, China and the World Health Organisation, will take all the necessary measures to address the situation.”

A BOA spokesperson said: “There is no higher priority than the safety and health of our athletes and delegation and we will be monitor the situation over the coming months, staying in close contact with both Tokyo 2020 and the IOC as is normal in the preparation for any major Games.” –THE MALAYA POST

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