Olympics Organisers 'Seriously Worried' About Coronavirus, But Games Won't Be Canned

Tokyo Olympics organisers say they are not considering postponing or cancelling the Games because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"I would like to make it clear again that we are not considering a cancellation or postponement of the Games. Let me make that clear," Yoshiro Mori, the president of the organising committee, told dozens of top IOC officials who are gathered in Tokyo.

The Olympics open in just over five months, and the torch relay begins next month in Japan - a clear signal the Games are almost here.

Preparation for the Tokyo Olympics is dealing with the coronavirus. Image: Getty

Although there have been no deaths in Japan attributed to the virus, Tokyo and IOC officials are clearly jittery. Sitting among the officials this time was Dr Richard Budgett, the IOC's medical and scientific director.

Last week Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organising committee, said he was "seriously worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games."



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He backed down a day later and said he was confident the Games would go forward, which is the message this time.

Australia's John Coates, an IOC member who heads the regular inspection visits to Tokyo, said he expected to receive reports on the virus from the Japanese government, the Tokyo city government, and local organisers in order to see the "necessary precautions that are being taken."

Coronavirus fears are spreading worldwide. Image: Getty

The virus on Wednesday forced the cancellation of the Formula One race set for April in Shanghai, which draws more than 100,000 over a race weekend.

It has wiped the indoor world track and field championships in Nanjing, golf tournaments, soccer matches, and almost all sports in China including Olympic qualifying events. It is also keeping Chinese athletes from travelling to qualify, which could put their presence in Tokyo in jeopardy.



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Saburo Kawabuchi, a former Olympian and the so-called mayor of the Olympic Village that will house 11,000 athletes and thousands more staff members, suggested Tokyo's hot and humid summer would stop the virus.

The Australian Matildas' Olympic preparation has been affected by the virus, with qualifiers moved from China. Image: Getty

"The biggest concern is the coronavirus and the infection," he said, speaking in Japanese.

"Currently we don't have any clue when this issue will be resolved. Based on various pieces of information we receive, it seems that this virus is not as strong as the influenza virus."



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"The virus is susceptible to humidity and heat. In Japan, we have the rainy season which could defeat the virus."