Tokyo Minister warns Olympics could be delayed due to coronavirus

Author
CNN,
Publish Date
Wed, 4 Mar 2020, 3:27PM
A woman wearing a face mask walks past the Olympic rings in front of the new National Stadium, the main stadium for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, on February 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
A woman wearing a face mask walks past the Olympic rings in front of the new National Stadium, the main stadium for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, on February 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo Minister warns Olympics could be delayed due to coronavirus

Author
CNN,
Publish Date
Wed, 4 Mar 2020, 3:27PM

Olympics chief Thomas Bach says Games organizers are preparing for a "successful" Tokyo 2020 despite the ongoing worries around coronavirus.

However, Japan's minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Seiko Hashimoto, told reporters that the Tokyo 2020 "Games could be postponed until later this year."

"In the contract signed by the IOC, the host city and others, it stated the IOC has the right to cancel the games only if they could not be held in 2020," Hashimoto said. "This could be taken to mean the games could be postponed until later this year."

Bach, who is the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president was speaking at an Executive Board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland to discuss the threat of the virus, which has killed more than 3,100 people -- the vast majority of those in Asia -- and infected more than 90,000 in 70 different countries or territories.

Both the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizers have repeatedly stressed that this summer's Games will go ahead as planned from July 24 to August 9.

On a media call last Thursday, Bach insisted he "will not add fuel to the flames of speculation" when it came to questions over postponing this summer's Games or exploring alternatives.

"The IOC, in cooperation with all the authorities and the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), is fully committed to a successful Olympic Games in Tokyo starting on the 24 July," he said.

According to a programme schedule for the IOC meeting, Tokyo 2020 organizers will deliver a status report on preparations Wednesday before Bach holds an official press conference.

"The organising committee, the IOC, and the Tokyo government are working hard on the assumption of opening the games on July 24 as scheduled. The government will put all its effort into supporting this." Hashimoto added.

Later on Tuesday the IOC executive board said in a statement that it "expressed its full commitment to the success" of the Games to take place as scheduled.

"A joint task force had already been created in mid-February, involving the IOC, Tokyo 2020, the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and the World Health Organization (WHO)," the executive board said.

"The IOC EB appreciates and supports the measures being taken, which constitute an important part of Tokyo's plans to host safe and secure Games."

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, said Tuesday that deciding now whether to postpone the Games "could be too early."

"What we have agreed is that we monitor the situation and then of course with the government of Japan, if there is a need for any actions, then we can discuss with the Japanese government," he added.

WHO is advising the IOC and Tokyo 2020 officials, and this past week Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, said "no decision has or will be taken in the near term regarding the future of the Olympics."

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