Coronavirus crisis stokes concerns about Olympic Games

February 27, 2020 10:02
Japan has sought to quell fears the Summer Olympic Games could be canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Reuters. .

Fears that the new coronavirus outbreak is on the verge of becoming a global pandemic have stoked concerns about the Tokyo Olympic Games, with doubts surfacing whether the event will go ahead as planned, Reuters reports.

Five months before the opening ceremony in Tokyo, health authorities around the world are scrambling to contain outbreaks of the flu-like virus which has infected about 80,000 and killed more than 2,700 people, the vast majority in China.

Sports have been brought to a virtual standstill across large swathes of Asia, and on Wednesday Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged sporting and cultural events be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks as part of containment efforts. 

Markets have begun pricing in the risk of a canceled Olympics, with the Dentsu Group’s share price hammered as spooked investors fret about the Japanese ad agency’s high exposure to the Games, the report noted.

Japan’s minister in charge of the Olympics, Seiko Hashimoto, however sought to quell fears the games could be canceled.

“The IOC is preparing for the Tokyo Games as scheduled,” Hashimoto said in parliament, referring to the International Olympic Committee.

In a briefing with reporters, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he had been told by the IOC that a comment made on Tuesday by IOC member Dick Pound that any cancellation decision would be made in May was not the IOC’s official stance.

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