Will the Coronavirus force the postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo?

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The IOC, local organizers, the Tokyo city government and everyone involved is saying “no.” That includes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. However, a respected Japanese virologist said this week the games would have to be postponed or canceled if they opened tomorrow.

“I’m not sure of the situation at the end of July,” Dr. Hitoshi Oshitani said. He said it would be “difficult to have the Olympics (now).” Other scientists have said they can’t forecast what the situation will be in five months.

Tokyo organizers announced very late on Friday night — near midnight Tokyo time — that training for 80,000 unpaid volunteers was being delayed until May or later. Some volunteers come from abroad. Organizers acknowledge they cannot run the games without them. Organizers this week also announced that a small test event in Tokyo Feb. 28-March 1 would be limited to only Japanese. The test is for Paralympic boccia and was to involve non-Japanese athletes.

Two upcoming test events — wheelchair rugby on March 12-15 and gymnastics on April 4-6 — are to have international fields. Tokyo spokesman Masa Takaya said this week he could not guarantee that non-Japanese would take part.

The Tokyo Marathon on March 1, usually with over 30,000 runners, is being limited to a few hundred elite athletes. Dozens of sports events outside Japan are affected. Some Olympic qualifiers are being moved or postponed, which complicates life for athletes, sports federations, national Olympic bodies, and border officials who have to deal with health issues.

AP