Tokyo Olympics can be held at any point in 2020, official says as coronavirus fears heightencloseVideo
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The coronavirus outbreak across the globe could lead to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics this summer–after causing the deaths of 12 in Japan.
Seiko Hashitomo, Japan’s Olympic minister, said Tuesday that its contract only requires the Games be held at some point during 2020 and the July date is not set. She implied the Games do not have to start on exactly July 24.
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“The IOC has the right to cancel the Games only if they are not held during 2020,” she told the upper house of parliament. “This can be interpreted to mean the games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year.”
Asked whether she believed the Games would be held if the coronavirus outbreak worsened, she replied: “We are making the utmost effort so that we don’t have to face that situation.”
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The Olympics are still expected to start on time, despite Japanese officials shutting down schools, sports competitions and Olympic-related events. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and Tokyo organizers have maintained that the Olympics will go on as scheduled.
“The IOC (board) encourages all athletes to continue to prepare (for the Games),” the IOC said, adding it would “continue to follow the advice of WHO.”
The Olympics have been canceled only three times in history – all due to wars.
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Japan’s professional baseball league began its preseason schedule in front of empty seats while the J-League pro soccer suspended play until March 8. The Tokyo Marathon was held Sunday with only a handful of elite runners instead of the usual 30,000 participants.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.