‘Olympics will go ahead’: Tokyo organizers slam virus rumors

The chief executive officer of the Tokyo Olympics admitted on Feb. 5 that organizers are “extremely worried” about the possible effect of the deadly new coronavirus on this summer’s Games. (AFP)
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Updated 06 February 2020

‘Olympics will go ahead’: Tokyo organizers slam virus rumors

  • Chief executive officer Toshiro Muto revealed that organizers have set up a task force to combat the fast-spreading disease
  • “The Olympics will go ahead as planned,” he told reporters after a Paralympic project review

TOKYO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizers said Thursday the Games would “go ahead as planned,” slamming misinformation over the new coronavirus for triggering panic.
Chief executive officer Toshiro Muto revealed that organizers have set up a task force to combat the fast-spreading disease that has killed over 560 people and infected at least 28,000 — the vast majority in mainland China — but promised that the Games would be not derailed.
“The Olympics will go ahead as planned,” he told reporters after a Paralympic project review.
“It is important to remain objective and cool-headed. We don’t want to alarm the public. The infection is still limited and there is no problem staging the Olympics based on the current situation.”
International Paralympic Committee (IPC) spokesman Craig Spence complained that scaremongering had created an “info-demic” that could skew public perception in the run-up to the Olympics and Paralympics.
“Fear is spreading quicker than the virus,” he said. “It’s important we quell that fear. Only 191 of the total cases are outside mainland China, so let’s put things into perspective.
“If you compare those rates with the common flu, they are still relatively small numbers,” added Spence.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has not declared this a pandemic. We dealt with the Zika virus in Rio and in these matters we need to rely on the experts.
“We will follow the advice of the World Health Organization. Every organizing committee looks into countermeasures, and we have measures in place from previous Olympics and Paralympics here in Tokyo. It is standard practice, it’s business as usual.”
More than 20 countries have confirmed cases of the flu-like coronavirus.
Japan has had no reported deaths so far, but 45 cases have been detected, including at least 20 people on a cruise ship carrying more than 3,700 passengers and crew quarantined off Yokohama.
The WHO has declared the outbreak a global health emergency.
Japan has warned citizens against non-essential travel to China and fast-tracked new rules including limits on entering the country as it tries to contain the spread of the virus.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday pledged that preparations for the Olympics would proceed as normal.
“The coronavirus is beginning to have an impact on tourism,” he said. “But the government will continue to steadily prepare for the Games in close cooperation with the IOC (International Olympic Committee), the local organizing committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.”
The Japanese government has chartered three flights to repatriate 565 Japanese nationals from Wuhan, the central Chinese city hardest hit by the virus.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike promised at the weekend to implement “thorough measures” to protect people from the virus.
The health scare has led to the cancelation of Olympic qualifying events in China such as boxing and badminton.
The Tokyo Olympics begin on July 24 with the Paralympics starting on August 25.


Ibrahimovic’s return to training with Sweden’s Hammarby sparks rumors about future

Updated 10 April 2020

Ibrahimovic’s return to training with Sweden’s Hammarby sparks rumors about future

STOCKHOLM: AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return to training in Sweden with Hammarby, the club he part owns, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to lockdown Italy, has fueled speculation regarding his future.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported the 38-year-old Ibrahimovic will choose against renewing his Milan deal which finishes at the end of the season.

The Swedish outfit’s president, Richard Von Yxkull, said the decision was in the hands of the attacker who played 116 times for his country before retiring from international duty in 2016.

“It’s about knowing how Zlatan sees his future and what he wants to do,” Von Yxkull told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Earlier in April the Spanish, Italian, French and Dutch league winner said he wanted to stay in the game after retiring.

“I want to learn something new about football, with a different angle. I will contribute from the sidelines, not on the pitch,” he told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Ibrahimovic’s last Milan appearance was the loss to Genoa on March 8.

All football in Italy has been suspended due to the coronavirus which has claimed the lives of nearly 18,000 people in the country.

Measures to fight the outbreak in Sweden are lighter which have allowed Ibrahimovic to train with Stockholm’s Hammarby, a side which he bought a 25-percent share in last November.

Ibrahimovic started his career with hometown club Malmo before trophy-laden spells with some of the world’s biggest outfits including Juventus, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain before rejoining Milan in January.