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Olympics Uncertainty: Tokyo 2020 Could Be Postponed But 'Must' Go Ahead This Year

The Tokyo Olympics could be postponed to later in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak, Japan's Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto says.

The Tokyo Olympics is scheduled to start on July 24 but the Games could be delayed as long as it is held within 2020, Hashimoto said, responding to a question from a lawmaker during an upper house budget committee session.

"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the right to cancel the Tokyo Olympics only if the Games are not held within this year," Hashimoto said on Tuesday.

The IOC has started a two-day executive board meeting where the issue will be discussed.

It is not yet known if any decision will be made, but recently the IOC has said the Games at present are going ahead as planned.

The IOC's longest-serving member, Richard Pound, said last week the outbreak could lead to the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics, but that the IOC has a three-month window to decide the fate of the 2020 Games.

About 11,000 athletes are expected to participate in the Olympics from July 24 to August 9. The Paralympics start on August 25.

Sport

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Two Super Rugby games have been relocated from Japan to Australia over coronavirus concerns, as the virus spreads throughout Japan.

The coronavirus outbreak that originated in China has killed more than 3,000 people and infected more than 90,000 worldwide.

Japan has so far confirmed nearly 990 cases of the infection, including about 700 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama.

Meanwhile, the Japan Para Sports Association said on Tuesday it had cancelled a test event for Paralympic wheelchair rugby due to the outbreak. The event was originally scheduled to take place in mid-March.