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Tokyo Games could be postponed until end of 2020, says Japan’s Olympic minister

Seiko Hashimoto told Japanese parliament that the government’s contract with the IOC could allow a delay to Tokyo 2020 due to the coronavirus.

JAPAN’S OLYMPIC MINISTER has suggested Tokyo 2020 could be postponed until later in the year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seiko Hashimoto told Japanese parliament that the Government’s agreement with the International Olympic Committee may allow a delay to the Games, which are due to get under way on 24 July and run until 9 August.

She said: “The contract calls for the Games to be held within 2020. This can be interpreted to mean the Games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year.”

The PA news agency understands the IOC are due to issue a statement on the matter today, but it is believed that organisers are confident the existing schedule will remain in place.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino, meanwhile, has urged football authorities “not to panic” over the coronavirus outbreak as sport responds to growing concerns.

Addressing UEFA’s member associations at the governing body’s Congress meeting in Amsterdam, Infantino called for both calm and a united approach to the issue.

He said: “Some of you have had to take important decisions in this respect. Every competition organiser has to study it of course and has to take decisions.

“It is important to consider all the information from the authorities, but it’s also important not to panic.

“Those who have to take decisions, like happened in Switzerland, will take decisions and then be able to move forward.

“Someone said to me football can be an antidote to coronavirus. I wouldn’t go that far, but sometimes football is an antidote to many other illnesses like discrimination and racism, and this is a fight we need to fight all together.”

The Swiss government last week banned public events at which more than 1,000 people were expected to be in attendance, with the Swiss Football Association suspending league matches until 23 March.

Dominique Blanc, the federation’s president, asked at UEFA Congress whether special dispensation could be given to play matches on Champions League and Europa League dates if necessary and whether financial aid may be available to cover the costs of the cancellations.

Blanc said: “We are in a position that could shake professional football to its foundations.”

UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis said: “We have anticipated this, and yesterday we had a productive meeting with European Leagues regarding situations like this.

“We have established a working group to find the best possible solutions, and apply common sense. Whatever issue there is will be addressed.”

2.28688142 A wheelchair rugby test event ahead of this summer’s Paralympics in Tokyo has been cancelled. Source: (Simon Bruty for OIS/PA)

Meanwhile, a wheelchair rugby test event ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has been cancelled as a result of the spread of the illness.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee announced today that the Japan Para Wheelchair Rugby Championships, which had been due to take place between March 12 and 15, had been called off by the Japan Para Sports Association.

The International Olympic Committee’s executive board is meeting in Lausanne this week with coronavirus sure to be on the agenda amid fears it could impact this summer’s Games.

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