Sport • 14 February, 2020

Olympics: Coronavirus will not affect Tokyo Games schedule

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Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori reiterated Thursday that the schedule of this summer's games will not be affected by the spread of the new coronavirus, Kyodo reports.

"I want to again state clearly that cancellation or postponement of the Tokyo Games has not been considered," Mori said at the beginning of a two-day meeting with the International Olympic Committee to discuss preparations.

The former prime minister said organizers will "work with the government and respond calmly" to any problems arising from the pneumonia-causing virus, which has killed over 1,300 people in mainland China and infected close to 60,000, according to China's health authorities.

Confirmed cases of infection in Japan totaled 203 as of Wednesday, including 174 passengers and crew members on a cruise ship docked at Yokohama near Tokyo. Infections have spread to more than 20 countries mainly in Asia, Europe and North America.

IOC Coordination Commission Chairman John Coates said the new coronavirus was an "unexpected issue" and that games' authorities would show later that necessary precautions will be taken for athletes and others traveling to Japan.

The Japanese government on Thursday set up a team to consult with sport organizations seeking contact with officials in response to the virus, Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto said.

It aims to strengthen cooperation with sport bodies, especially as some have expressed concern about sending their athletes abroad or welcoming those from other countries.

The Japanese government and Tokyo metropolitan government will also weigh in on virus countermeasures over the two-day meeting in the 2020 host city.

The organizing committee and the IOC also plan to discuss the cost issues surrounding the controversial transfer of the marathon and race walking events from Tokyo to Sapporo due to the expected extreme heat in the Japanese capital this summer.

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