The increasing death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in neighboring China has left Tokyo Olympic organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in fear as they admitted yesterday there is no “Plan B” for the 2020 Games, which open in just over five months.
According to reports monitored on ESPN, the coronavirus has infected almost 64,000 people globally with almost 1,400 deaths in China, but only one in Japan, where fear is rising with so much attention focused on the outbreak.
“Certainly the advice we’ve received externally from the WHO (World Health Organisation) is that there’s no case for any contingency plans or cancelling the Games or moving the Games,” John Coates, the head of an IOC inspection team, said in wrapping up a two-day visit that was dominated by the virus issue.
Coates and Tokyo Olympic organisers took 11 questions at a news conference yesterday. All 11 were about the virus, or the presence of Chinese athletes in 19 remaining test events in Japan, or about Chinese fans, or repeated questions seeking reassurance the games will go ahead as planned.
A Japanese reporter asked Tokyo organising committee president, Yoshiro Mori, if, given the fact the Olympics are going ahead, there would be any “organisational changes” in how the games are run.
“No, at this stage, no. We are not thinking of any such possibility,” said Mori, a former Japanese prime minister, speaking in Japanese.
Mori, Coates and CEO Toshiro Muto looked glum sitting at a head table, taking essentially the same question over and over.
“We can confirm that Tokyo 2020 remains on track,” Coates said in his opening statement.
Coates was asked by a CNN reporter if he was 100 percent confident that the Tokyo Olympics would go on as scheduled and open on July 24.
“Yes,” he replied.