Tokyo 2020 Olympics hit by coronavirus jitters

The Wuhan coronavirus is affecting the world of sport, with authorities from F1, tennis and the Olympics joining the Chinese Super League, which has postponed the beginning of its season over fears of the virus.

Posted: Feb 6, 2020 11:30 AM
Updated: Feb 6, 2020 11:30 AM

The deadly Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could impact Japan's preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer, a senior organizer has warned.

The virus has infected over 28,000 people across more than 25 countries and territories, and claimed more than 560 lives -- the vast majority of cases and all but two deaths in mainland China. At least 45 cases have been reported in Japan, including 20 people on board a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama Bay.

"I am extremely worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games," said Toshiro Muto, chief executive of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK. "I hope that it will be stamped out as soon as possible."

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated Monday that the Games would proceed as planned.

However, the Games are due to open in less than six months, and Muto's comments came as Japanese health officials raced to check passengers and crew aboard the Diamond Princess cruiseliner, which docked off Yokohama port Monday.

The Princess Cruises ship was placed in lockdown at the Japanese port, with 3,700 people quarantined on board after it was revealed that an infected passenger flew into Tokyo and spent a few days on the ship.

So far 20 people on the ship have been confirmed with the coronavirus.

There are still more than 100 samples awaiting test results. A total of 2,666  guests and 1,045 crew members were on board, Princess Cruises said in a statement earlier this week.

On Wednesday, the Japanese defense ministry docked a quarantine ferry at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, central Japan, The 17,000-ton ferry has 94 rooms and will be ready to accommodate Japanese returnees from China, if needed.

Olympic jitters?

Despite the fears over the coronavirus outbreak, the fanfare around Tokyo 2020, which is due to officially begin on Friday, July 24, is well underway.

Tokyo's new National Stadium was inaugurated last December and the Olympic torch relay is scheduled to kick off from Fukushima prefecture on March 26.

On Monday, Abe dispelled concerns that the Summer Olympics would be canceled after false rumors circulated online.

"We will take appropriate measures so that the preparation for the Olympic games will proceed without affecting them," Abe told a parliamentary committee.

Japan has struggled to recover from three recessions in the past eight years, the second of which was caused by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan in March 2011. Officials hope to use the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to attract visitors and promote Japanese business and innovation.

The government has also set an ambitious goal of attracting up to 40 million foreign visitors to the country this year in a bid to bolster the economy. That goal already looks threatened after China banned outbound group travel as part of its battle to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Japan received approximately 9.6 million visitors from China in 2019, accounting for a third of foreign tourist expenditure in the country.

The Games themselves are expected to welcome up to 920,000 visitors a day, according to a report published by the Bank of Japan. So far, Olympic organizers have continued to stress precaution will be taken to secure the safety of athletes and visitors.

Officials announced on Thursday that they had established an internal novel coronavirus countermeasures task force, headed by Muto. The task force would share information between relevant bodies on the status of the outbreak, Muto told reporters.

"We need to make sure the public, the athletes and the stakeholders feel safe and secure," Muto said. "We have to be objective and cool-headed as we don't want to instigate a sense of fear."

The organizers also stressed the need to put the virus into perspective, given the World Health Organization (WHO) had not designated the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.

Precautions taken

While face masks have become scarce nationwide, Japan has started to take a number of precautions to overcome and prevent the spread of the virus.

Last Friday, Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced it had succeeded in isolating and cultivating the virus from a Japanese person confirmed to be infected. The institute will use the isolated virus to start developing a vaccine and a test kit capable of quick diagnosis, though the process could take months.

Japanese companies have adopted the practice of encouraging their employees to work from home to prevent exposing them to the virus on congested public transport and in offices.

Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce company, has told employees who have recently returned from China to work from home for two weeks, according to public broadcaster NHK. It takes 14 days to cover the virus' incubation perioid.

The company will also allow pregnant women to telework, regardless of whether they have been to China, and postpone business trips to and from the country.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 614946

Reported Deaths: 9807
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion849231342
Lake45784693
Allen33103560
Hamilton29752316
St. Joseph27572383
Elkhart24496346
Vanderburgh19679255
Tippecanoe18150144
Johnson15234296
Porter14970172
Hendricks14550253
Madison11071223
Clark10852145
Vigo10819185
Monroe9496115
Delaware9193136
LaPorte9173164
Howard8325148
Kosciusko811485
Warrick683399
Hancock6783106
Bartholomew6659100
Floyd6522113
Wayne6194164
Grant6050118
Dubois559081
Boone557968
Morgan551996
Henry512365
Marshall507884
Dearborn488745
Cass487864
Noble476159
Jackson428747
Shelby423381
Lawrence395180
Clinton375845
Gibson375560
Harrison354046
DeKalb351365
Montgomery349754
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Miami325244
Steuben315846
Whitley313126
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Fountain185227
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Fulton165430
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Parke13098
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Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4967
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 872918

Reported Deaths: 10856
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin102616707
Cuyahoga868931154
Hamilton65148455
Montgomery43662420
Summit35411766
Lucas31794634
Butler31451232
Stark26247445
Warren19939144
Lorain19378229
Mahoning17561339
Lake16350161
Clermont16235113
Delaware1463881
Licking13453142
Fairfield1301782
Trumbull12980317
Greene12226144
Medina11798169
Clark11094266
Wood10507158
Allen10031128
Portage9514111
Richland9275134
Miami927273
Marion7512113
Tuscarawas7455186
Columbiana7433124
Pickaway735250
Muskingum714042
Wayne7140172
Erie6253130
Ross5589100
Hancock556292
Scioto545365
Geauga518955
Darke474395
Lawrence464658
Union459130
Ashtabula457973
Sandusky440462
Huron435541
Mercer435590
Seneca435366
Auglaize425166
Belmont423948
Jefferson423969
Shelby422923
Washington396340
Athens38619
Putnam379276
Madison359930
Knox358423
Ashland349638
Fulton341744
Defiance336188
Crawford327274
Preble323637
Brown318821
Logan314835
Ottawa297443
Clinton293944
Highland282219
Williams282267
Jackson266145
Guernsey259326
Champaign254628
Fayette241030
Morrow23594
Perry235518
Holmes227274
Henry222954
Hardin217033
Coshocton208023
Van Wert204445
Gallia200126
Wyandot198151
Pike180918
Adams179815
Hocking174024
Carroll158216
Paulding145521
Noble121040
Meigs110324
Monroe103433
Harrison89821
Morgan84531
Vinton71714
Unassigned00
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