Tokyo 2020: Olympic Games organisers worried by coronavirus disruption
Host committee CEO says he is "seriously worried" by epidemic; Olympic Village set to welcome over 11,000 athletes in July
By Sarah Dawkins, Olympics producer
Last Updated: 05/02/20 11:16am
Organisers of the Tokyo Olympics say they are concerned about the disruption on the Games caused by the fast-spreading coronavirus.
The Games are set to open on July 24, with over 11,000 athletes participating and thousands more people due to attend in Japan in support, administrative and spectator roles. The Paralympics will be held in late August and early September.
Toshiro Muto, chief executive officer of the Games, says he is "seriously worried that spreading of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum towards the Games", adding that the Tokyo 2020 organising committee will work with the IOC, IPC, the Japanese government and Tokyo Metropolitan government "to tackle this issue thoroughly".
Saburo Kawabuchi, the Mayor of the Olympic Village, says he hopes the infectious disease will be "stamped out" to ensure both the Olympic and Paralympic Games run "smoothly".
Tokyo 2020 organisers have repeatedly said there are no plans to cancel the competition but some Olympic qualifying events have already been cancelled or relocated, including this week's women's basketball qualifiers which were supposed to be held in China but have been moved to Serbia.
More than 20,000 cases of the virus have been recorded in China and up to 490 people are thought to have died so far. Ten cases have been confirmed on a quarantined cruise ship in the port city of Yokohama, 25 miles from Tokyo.
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Chinese athletes will have to provide a medical certificate and undergo a screening to ensure they are not contagious before they can compete against their Team GB counterparts in the basketball qualifying matches.
Chantelle Handy, who plays small forward for Team GB, said: "Over the last week, it has spread and we were a bit worried about what was going to happen.
"I think FIBA has made the right decision to move it, just for the safety of everybody else. So we are happy about it and it is better for us because the travel isn't going to be as intense, so our prep and recovery is probably going to be better."