COVID-19: What about Tokyo Olympics?

The Tokyo Summer Olympics are scheduled to be held from July 24, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday 27 February 2020

Doubts were cast over the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympic games from July 24, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Two deaths from COVID-19 were reported in the island nation on February 26, while the number of infected rose to 172.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on February 26 called for the country’s sporting events to either be scrapped or postponed by two weeks. “The government considers there to be a large risk of transmission at sports, cultural events and large gatherings of people,” he was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.

The call came a day after Dick Pound, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — in an interview to news agency Associated Press — said the Tokyo Summer Olympics could be cancelled.

In the interview, he said that if the games do not go forward as per schedule, “you’re probably looking at a cancellation”.

Pound was however contradicted by Japan minister Seiko Hashimoto, who said that the government and IOC continued with preparations “as scheduled”.

Training for volunteers of the Tokyo Olympics was postponed in February, while the torch relay would be scaled back to limit the spread of the virus, Reuters reported.

More doubts were raised after advertising conglomerate Dentsu Group Inc — which is involved with the games — told its employees to work from home after it reported an infection in its Tokyo headquarters, according to Reuters.

There have been global repercussions from the COVID-19 virus outbreak which originated in China. Over 2,700 — a majority of them from China — have died across the world from the outbreak while over 80,000 have been infected.

The virus — the World Health Organisation said on February 26 — was spreading faster outside China. A spike in cases was reported in Italy, where the number of infected went up to 400, according to a BBC report.

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