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.”


Red card for virus as Saudi Pro League returns with Riyadh derby

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Updated 03 August 2020

Red card for virus as Saudi Pro League returns with Riyadh derby

  • Season restarts after 144-day absence with safety measures, spectator bans

JEDDAH: The most popular rivalry in the Saudi Pro League (SPL) will take center stage as Al-Nassr host Al-Hilal on Wednesday, with safety precautions to allow the safe return of football in the Kingdom.

The eagerness for football’s return will be highlighted when players arrive fully kitted at King Fahd Stadium, ready to take to the pitch for the Riyadh derby on Wednesday night.
The kit rule is one of a string of new measures put in place during every league game to ensure the safe return of the country’s most popular sport, as players and coaches prepare for the SPL after a 144-day absence with a full round of fixtures starting on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fans are unable to attend games due to social distancing rules, while other regulations have been put in place behind the scenes ahead of the season resuming on Tuesday night.
Players would usually arrive at stadiums on team buses, but these will now be reduced to smaller convoys with staggered team arrivals. Players will turn up in their kit ready to take straight to the pitch to warm up ahead of the game in order to avoid large numbers in changing rooms.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Players to arrive ‘match ready’ in warm-up kits.

• Limited number of players allowed in changing rooms at one time.

• Stadiums continuously disinfected.

About 30 precautions are being implemented across match days aside from spectator bans, with all clubs and players agreeing to rules set out by the SPL and Ministry of Sport.
Arrival points at stadiums will be spread out for teams and staff, while a maximum of five players will be allowed in changing rooms at one time.
While a lot of work has gone into the safety preparations behind the scenes, players will also avoid shaking hands or hugging on the pitch. Dugouts will be restricted to nine coaching staff and substitutes, with others seated in the stands while wearing masks.
On match days, stadiums will be disinfected, including changing rooms, corridors, advertising and even corner flags, with the league ensuring safety standards are maintained during the remaining eight rounds of fixtures.
Fans will not be allowed in stadiums but can still get behind their team and show their support through the SPL’s #OurLeagueIsBack digital campaign, which encourages supporters to share messages and join the conversation online.
Take part on Twitter at @SPL, Instagram at SaudiProLeague, Facebook at SaudiProLeague.SPL and by using the hashtag #OurLeagueIsBack.