In Brief

Coronavirus impact on sport: ‘serious concerns’ for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Formula 1 bosses meet to discuss whether to race the Chinese Grand Prix in April

The coronavirus death toll has risen to 493 while in China alone there are now more than 24,300 recorded cases. All but two of the deaths have occurred in China.

As reported by the BBC, the disease was last week declared a “global emergency” by the World Health Organization (WHO), but it does not yet constitute a “pandemic”.  

This morning it was confirmed that ten people on a cruise ship anchored off Yokohama in Japan have tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus.

Thousands of crew and passengers will be held in quarantine on board the Diamond Princess for at least two weeks.

Fears that coronavirus could spread rapidly to other countries is having an impact for organisers of major sporting events.

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Olympic fears 

The news of the cruise ship outbreak has sparked fears for the organisers of this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, which take place in Japan’s capital city Tokyo.

Starting on 24 July the Olympics is the world’s biggest sporting event, with thousands of athletes competing and thousands of fans attending the Games. 

BBC Sport says Tokyo 2020 officials are “seriously concerned” about the spread of the virus and a number of qualification events have already been impacted. 

Toshiro Muto, chief executive of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, said: “We are extremely worried in the sense that the spread of the infectious virus could pour cold water on momentum for the Games.” 

However, when asked about coronavirus, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “brushed aside worries”, The Associated Press reported. 

Abe said: “We will respond appropriately while closely cooperating with the World Health Organization and other international organisations so that we can proceed with the preparations without letting it affect the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.”

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F1 set for Chinese GP talks 

While Japan hopes that the spread of coronavirus will ease before the Games, Formula 1 bosses are having talks today regarding the Chinese Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place on 19 April

ESPN says flights to China have been suspended and several sporting events have already been cancelled. Formula E’s race in Sanya, China, on 21 March is off as is next month’s Blue Bay LPGA women’s golf tournament in Hainan, China

F1’s strategy group meets today to discuss the grand prix in Shanghai. Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Autosport that the teams must trust any decision made by the FIA and F1 management. 

Horner said: “Look, the FIA is the regulator, Liberty is promoter. They are responsible for the health and wellbeing of not just the drivers in F1, but all the staff, and all of the travelling members of the media. 

“And I’m sure they’ll take the necessary due diligence before making any commitment about either delaying or postponing or cancelling the race. So we have to trust their judgement and their knowledge. 

“But of course we keep a very close eye on the situation which will be on the agenda on Wednesday’s strategy meeting where we will get the next update.” 

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