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AFP
February 15, 2020

IOC faces challenge as virus jitters hit Tokyo Olympics

Sports

AFP
February 15, 2020

TOKYO: Olympic chiefs admitted Friday they face a “very big communications job” to soothe concerns over the coronavirus epidemic in the run-up to this summer’s Tokyo Games.

The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) coordination commission insisted there was no danger of Tokyo 2020 being cancelled or moved, despite fears over the fast-spreading virus which has killed nearly 1,400 and infected around 64,000 -- most of them in China. But he said the IOC will send out information packs to reassure athletes that it’s safe to come into contact with competitors from China. “The advice we have received from the World Health Organization (WHO) is that there is no case for a contingency plan to cancel or move the Games,” John Coates told reporters after a project review meeting.

“Certainly it’s a very big communications job that needs to be undertaken,” he added, noting that China is set to send more than 600 athletes to Tokyo.

“But we hear that most of the Chinese athletes are now out of China. I don’t know how many were to be involved in test events here, but I don’t see a problem if they’re coming from another country.”

Coates promised lessons would be learned from Rio four years ago, when concerns over the mosquito-born Zika virus led to several top athletes pulling out of the Olympics, including golfers Jason Day and Rory McIlroy.“The WHO pointed out the likelihood of Zika being a problem at the time of the Games was very low,” he said.