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Tokyo Olympics chief ‘seriously worried’ over coronavirus

The Oi Olympic Hockey Stadium is in the waterfront area of Tokyo Bay

Tokyo’s Olympics chiefs remain “seriously worried” but hope the spread of the coronavirus will evaporate with 24 weeks until the Games start in earnest.

Japan has had 20 confirmed cases of the virus which is the largest number outside China. A cruise ship docked at Yokohama in recent days confirmed 10 cases on board, while the death toll in China is approaching 600 people out of nearly 25,000 cases since the outbreak of the virus.

A number of sporting events have been cancelled or postponed in China, including the World Athletics Indoor Championships, while the China v Belgium Pro League clash this weekend was also postponed.

Toshiro Muto, Tokyo Organising Committee’s chief executive, said: “I am seriously worried that the spread of the disease could throw cold water on the momentum towards the Games. I hope that it will be stamped out as soon as possible.”

Saburo Kawabuchi, mayor of the athletes’ village for the Games, said: “I truly hope that the disease will die down so that we will be able to operate the Paralympics and Olympics smoothly.

“We will do our utmost for the athletes so that they will be able to concentrate on performing their best.”

Government officials, as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have said they are confident the Olympics will go ahead, with the International Olympic Committee also remaining optimistic.

Abe said: “We will respond appropriately, while closely co-operating with the World Health Organisation and other international organisations so that we can proceed with the preparations without letting it affect the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.”

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