The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has insisted Tokyo 2020 will go ahead despite fears surrounding the spread of coronavirus in the region.

Thomas Bach, the IOC president, told reporters that athletes should continue their Olympic preparations “with great confidence” following a meeting of the organisation’s executive board in which it was decided that the IOC remains committed to holding the Olympics between July 24 and August 9 as scheduled.

The IOC released its optimistic appraisal of the likelihood of the Games taking place this summer just days after Dick Pound, a senior member of the IOC, said the event would need to be cancelled, rather than postponed or relocated, while Japan’s Olympic minister, Seiko Hashimoto, said that the Games could be moved to the end of the year.

“The International Olympic Committee executive board today expressed its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, taking place from 24 July to 9 August 2020,” read a statement.

“The IOC executive board heard a report on all the measures taken so far to address the coronavirus situation, which was followed by a comprehensive discussion. A joint task force had already been created in mid-February, involving the IOC, Tokyo 2020, the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and the World Health Organisation.

“The IOC will continue to follow the advice of WHO, as the leading United Nations agency on this topic.”

Today, the Japan Para Wheelchair Rugby Championship, scheduled to take place on March 12-15 and a test event for the Paralympic Games, was cancelled because of the risk of spread of the coronavirus.

“Tokyo 2020 nevertheless will carry out the wheelchair rugby test event in some form in April, after ensuring a safe and secure environment,” read a statement from Tokyo 2020’s organising committee.

So far, there are 90,000 cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, and more than 3,000 deaths confirmed globally.

International sales for Tokyo 2020 tickets are scheduled to begin in mid-May, for the event which kicks off on July 24. Tickets until now have only been sold to Japanese residents, with almost 4.5 million already allocated in the first two phases of the domestic ticket lottery. Organisers have not disclosed the total amount of tickets available, estimated to be over nine million.

Image: Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker