Tokyo, IOC officials reiterate Olympics are on despite coronavirus scare

The Olympics open in just over five months, and the torch relay begins next month in Japan. Above, a tourist wearing a mask poses for a photo with the Olympic rings in the background at Tokyo’s Odaiba district. (AP)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Tokyo, IOC officials reiterate Olympics are on despite coronavirus scare

  • The Olympics open in just over five months, and the torch relay begins next month in Japan
  • Japan reported its first death from the coronavirus on Thursday

TOKYO: Tokyo Olympic organizers reiterated their message on Thursday at the start of two days of meetings with the International Olympic Committee: The 2020 Games will not be waylaid by the virus that is spreading from neighboring China.
“I would like to make it clear again that we are not considering a cancelation or postponement of the games. Let me make that clear,” organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said, speaking through an interpreter to dozens of top IOC officials gathered in Tokyo.
The Olympics open in just over five months, and the torch relay begins next month in Japan — a clear signal the games are getting close.
Japan reported its first death from the coronavirus on Thursday, a development that will add to the jitters among organizers and IOC officials. Japan has confirmed almost 250 cases, including 218 from a cruise ship quarantined at the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo.
Sitting among the IOC officials this time was Dr. Richard Budgett, the IOC’s medical and scientific director who does not always travel for these inspection visits.
Last week Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, said he was “seriously worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the games.”
He backed down a day later and said he was confident the games would go forward, which is the message this time.
On Wednesday, the virus forced the cancelation of a Formula One race set for April in Shanghai, which draws more than 100,000 over a race weekend.
The Hong Kong and Singapore rounds of the World Rugby Sevens Series were rescheduled from April to October on Thursday, with organizers saying the decision was taken “in response to continued health concerns relating to” the outbreak of the virus. Also, the SportAccord conference, an event with close ties to the Olympic movement, will not take place in Beijing in April as scheduled, organizers said Thursday.
The virus has also wiped out the indoor world track and field championships in Nanjing, golf tournaments, soccer matches, and almost all sports in China, including Olympic qualifying events. It is also keeping Chinese athletes from traveling to qualify, which could put their presence in Tokyo in jeopardy.
Saburo Kawabuchi, a former Olympian and the so-called mayor of the Olympic Village that will house 11,000 athletes and thousands more staff members, suggested Tokyo’s hot and humid summer would stop the virus.
“The biggest concern is the coronavirus and the infection,” he said, speaking in Japanese. “Currently we don’t have any clue when this issue will be resolved. Based on various pieces of information we receive; it seems that this virus is not as strong as the influenza virus. The virus is susceptible to humidity and heat. In Japan, we have the rainy season which could defeat the virus.”
John Coates, an IOC member who heads the regular inspection visits to Tokyo, said he expected to receive reports on the virus from the Japanese government, the Tokyo city government, and local organizers in order to see the “necessary precautions that are being taken.”


Moukoko could become youngest Champions League player

Updated 24 November 2020

Moukoko could become youngest Champions League player

  • The 16-year-old Cameroonian has been training regularly with the Dortmund first team since August

DORTMUND: Borussia Dortmund forward Youssoufa Moukoko could become the youngest player ever in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Dortmund said Monday that Moukoko was added to the squad for the home match against Belgian club Brugge.

Moukoko broke the Bundesliga record on Saturday when he made his debut for Dortmund on the day after his 16th birthday. Moukoko came off the bench in the 5-2 victory over Hertha Berlin.

If he plays on Tuesday, Moukoko would break the Champions League record held by Celestine Babayaro. The Nigerian left back was 16 years, 87 days old when he played for Belgian club Anderlecht in the group stage in 1994.

Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said he was eager to rotate the team to cope with a busy schedule but didn’t commit to giving Moukoko any game time.

“It’s hard to say and to answer immediately. We will see today in training and we have a lot (of players) up front,” Favre said. “We have a lot of options up front and we will see.”

Moukoko scored 13 goals in four games for Dortmund’s under-19 team this season and 34 in 20 games last season. He has been training regularly with the first team since August.

Moukoko was born in Cameroon but moved to Germany as a child and has played for German youth national teams.

Dortmund are in first place in Group F of the Champions League and will be on the verge of qualifying for the knockout stages with a win over Brugge. Dortmund beat the Belgian team 3-0 earlier this month.

Dortmund said Monday that attacking midfielder Reinier had tested positive for the coronavirus. Dortmund said Reinier is in isolation at home and is not showing symptoms. He is on loan from Real Madrid.

Reinier most recently played for the Brazilian under-23 national team in two friendlies in Egypt during the last international break. He wasn’t in the Dortmund squad for the 5-2 Bundesliga victory over Hertha Berlin on Saturday.