With coronavirus wreaking havoc on some global sporting events, Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto (pictured), has not ruled out postponing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics until later in the year.
The Games are scheduled to run 24 July–9 August and only last week IOC President Thomas Back said the organisation was “fully committed” to hosting the event as scheduled.
However, Ms Hashimoto has told Japan’s parliament that the contract calls for the Games to be held only ‘within 2020’. “That could be interpreted as allowing a postponement,” she said.
The Olympic torch relay is scheduled to start on 26 March in Fukushima Prefecture.
A test event for the Tokyo Paralympics has already been called off with coronavirus being cited as the reason. The Japan wheelchair rugby championships were to have taken place 12-15 March in Tokyo, until the Japan Para Sports Association and the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation agreed to cancel the event in line with Japanese government policy which is to discourage large events this month in a move aimed at stemming the spread of the virus.
Another Olympic test event – sport climbing – due to take place 6-7 March in Tokyo, is now to be held without athletes. Organisers said Tokyo 2020 staff would take the place of athletes to ‘test operational readiness’.
In other affected countries sporting events are also being cancelled or postponed. In the Chinese city of Anning, a WTA tennis event, the Kunming Open, which had been scheduled for 27 April-3 May, has been cancelled.
The Swiss Football League has been suspended until 23 March and International Champions Cup football matches due to take place in Asia this summer are cancelled. Five Serie A matches due to be played on the weekend of 29 February and 1 March in Italy were postponed following the outbreak of the virus and Japan’s J-League has postponed all domestic games until the middle of March.
In MotoGP, the season’s second race, set for Thailand on 22 March, is cancelled. The season’s opening race in Qatar on 8 March had already been pulled.
The opening event in the World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi, which was due to take place from 5-7 March, was postponed as a “precautionary measure” after a number of new cases were reported in that city.
In wrestling, The Asian Olympic Games qualifying tournament, due to take place from 27-29 March in Kyrgyzstan, was cancelled, due to government advice to prevent the spread of the virus.
In cycling the UAE Tour was cancelled after two staff members at the event tested positive for coronavirus.
In rugby union, Ireland v Italy’s Six Nations game in Italy on 7 March is off, as is the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, due to take place in Seoul, South Korea 13-15 March.
The World Table Tennis Championships in South Korea, due to be held from 22-29 March, are also postponed until June.