Published on : Friday, February 14, 2020
Coronavirus scare may not have an impact on fans heading to Tokyo for the Olympics in July according to Kazuomi Yamashita, Director of Marketing, Tourist Promotion Department, Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau (TCVB). Speaking to reporters, Kazuomi said around 4.5 lakh people from China visit Japan every two months. Now after the outbreak of the virus, this inflow may have been affected.
Kazuomi said that Olympics in Japan will not get affected. Already 7.8 million tickets have been sold. The 2012 London Olympics got over 8 million visitors, and they are expecting more than that. They are expecting an increase in this percentage this year.
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. The organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said, speaking through an interpreter to dozens of top IOC officials gathered in Tokyo said that he would like to make it clear again that they are not considering a cancellation or postponement of the games. Let me make that clear. 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.
Although there have been no deaths in Japan attributed to the coronavirus, Tokyo and IOC officials are clearly jittery. Sitting among the officials this time was Dr. Richard Budgett, the IOC’s medical and scientific director.
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 cancellation 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.
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.