Coronavirus: Japan minister hints that Tokyo Olympics 2020 may be postponed

Commuters walk past the Olympic Rings in Tokyo. File photo: AP | PTI
Japan’s Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto on Tuesday hinted that the Tokyo summer games could be postponed due to coronavirus outbreak. While answering a question in Japanese parliament, Hashimoto said Tokyo's contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) "calls for the Games to be held within 2020".

"Looking at the contract once again, it says in Article 66 that the IOC holds the right to cancel the Games by deactivating the contract if... the Games are not held in 2020," Hashimoto said.

"At this moment, the Tokyo 2020 committee, the IOC and Tokyo (city government) are doing their best to make sure the Games will be held from July 24," she added. The Tokyo Olympics 2020 is scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9.

Hashimoto added that May looked like an "important benchmark" for deciding whether the Games go ahead as scheduled.

"An IOC member has said the end of May is the final deadline for making the decision," she said, referring to remarks by senior IOC member Dick Pound. "So I think the end of May is an important benchmark," Hashimoto added.

"We're making utmost efforts so that the IOC can be convinced that the Tokyo Games can be held safely."

The Japanese govt Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stepped up national measures to contain the virus, urging schools nationwide to close for several weeks and calling on organisers of large events to consider cancelling or delaying them.

Japan cancels wheelchair rugby test event for the Paralympics

Everything from football matches and music concerts have been affected, while sumo's spring tournament will be held behind closed doors.

Moreover, on Tuesday, a wheelchair rugby test event for the Paralympics, which are scheduled to start on August 25, was cancelled over the virus.

"Tokyo 2020 nevertheless will carry out the wheelchair rugby test event in some form in April, after ensuring a safe and secure environment," an organising committee statement said.

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