Despite ongoing fears of the spread of the coronavirus, organisers of the 2020 Olympic games say the event will be going ahead as originally planned.

According to sports newspaper Diario AS, Senior official of the International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commission for the Games, John Coates, was speaking at a news conference in Tokyo on Friday after meeting with the Tokyo games organisers, where he stressed that this year’s olympic games will be going ahead as previously planned on July 24, despite the rising concerns regarding Coronavirus infections.

Coates states that the Japanese Government is dealing with the outbreak in a responsible way and that they are continuing communications with the World Health Organisation so that the games can go ahead in a calm and safe manner for both athletes and spectators. The chairman of the committee is doing its utmost to “ensure that all of the athletes and all of the people who come to Japan for the Games are not going to be affected and that all the necessary precautions are being taken".

President of Tokyo 2020, Yoshiro Mori, has backed Coates, stating that there were numerous “irresponsible rumours” that the Olympic Games would be cancelled or postponed due to the outbreak of the virus late last year. Mori said, “I would like to clearly reiterate that cancellation or postponement of the Tokyo Games are not being considered." and that “the organising committee will deal with the coronavirus calmly in co-operation with the government."

The mayor of the Olympic Village, Saburo Kawabuchi has attempted to calm concerns of the virus continuing into the Olympic season. He has stated that the new coronavirus is weaker than seasonal influenza and that the Olympic Games are set to go ahead during Japan’s summer season, where the heat and moisture will be enough to kill off the deadly virus.

The virus, known as COVID-19 is an ongoing new strain of coronavirus, that was first identified in Hubei province in China in December of 2019. Just like the SARS outbreak of 2003, the COVID-19 has been linked to animals, and is expected to have come from a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan. After the failure of containing the virus, and its spread to numerous countries across the globe, the virus has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organisation.

CNBC reports that the virus has killed more than 1,800 people and as of 17th February, 67,191 cases of people carrying the virus have been officially confirmed. In Japan, the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship has been quarantined off of the coast of the country as more than 200 people onboard are reported to be infected.

People infected by the virus may be without any symptoms or have mild to severe symptoms that include, coughing, fever, breath shortness, or diarrhea. The incubation period from exposure to the onset of symptoms is estimated as being 2-10 days by the World Health Organization. People of older age or those with weakened immune systems or conditions such as hypertension or diabetes are at a higher risk to contract the infection. Severe infection of COVID-19 has been shown to result in pneumonia, kidney failure and death.

Due to the outbreak, numerous sporting events in China have already been postponed or cancelled. The World athletics have postponed the World Indoor Championships which was originally scheduled to go ahead during April in Nanjing, to next year. Additionally, the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, which was also scheduled to go ahead in April has been postponed. The Guardian reports that promoters of the racing series have expressed their hopes that the event will be rescheduled, however, this seems to be highly unlikely. Other events in golf and football, as well as Olympic qualifying races have also been cancelled due to the spread of the virus.

Despite the growing concerns of a large pandemic and a suggestion from London to host the games in the event of a cancellation, Japan remains positive that this year’s sporting events will go ahead. As well as the Olympics, a spokesperson for the International Paralympic Committee, Craig Spence has insisted that the Paralympics will commence as planned in August. The Tokyo marathon, which has not been cancelled, is also going ahead on 1st of March, however, the event organisers have stated that runners from China can defer until 2021 due to the strict border control amid the current crisis.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic games are expected to see an influx of 600,000 overseas visitors to Japan’s capital and the surrounding areas.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.