Tokyo 2020 kicks off ATR ticket sales amid calls for cancellation

Tokyo 2020 has launched a new round of ticket sales today (Monday), despite calls from the likes of British 800m athlete Guy Learmouth and the US President Donald Trump to postpone or cancel the Olympics due to coronavirus concerns.

Tickets for the Games will be sold through authorised ticket reseller Kingdom Sports Group (KSG) to countries including African nations such as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Botswana, and in Asian countries such as Japan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe maintains that the Games should go on as planned from July 24 to August 9.

Learmonth, who captained the GB team at the European Indoor Championships, told the Guardian newspaper that attending the global event in July is not worth the risk amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “We have no idea how bad this is going to get, and what we have seen so far might be the tip of the iceberg. Of course the IOC and the whole world wants a successful Olympics. But for that to happen I strongly believe the event needs to be postponed – unless the authorities can guarantee it will be business as usual, which I don’t believe they can.

“Purely from an athlete’s point of view here, we need some clarity, transparency and flexibility. Because the press conference that I saw from the Japanese prime minister didn’t exactly fill me full of confidence that these Games are going to go ahead whatsoever.”

His statement comes as more event organisers announced cancellations or postponements, including, most recently, the Diamond League athletic competition organised by World Athletics.

In addition, the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, one of the host venues for this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in the Japanese capital, has been pushed back due to the coronavirus outbreak. The arena’s opening ceremony had been scheduled for March 22 but this has been postponed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Around 1,000 locals had been expected to attend the event at the 15,000-seat venue.

The opening ceremony will eventually be a behind-closed-doors event when it is rescheduled. An announcement on the new opening date for the arena is expected in due course.

Elsewhere, UEFA has called meetings for tomorrow (Tuesday) to address the impact on its competitions caused by coronavirus, with European football’s governing body expected to announce the postponement of Euro 2020.

Due to its unique hosting template, Euro 2020 has appeared especially problematic as the virus has swept across Europe. The tournament is due to be held across 12 stadia in 12 different nations, and is scheduled to kick off in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on June 12, with Italy the centre of the outbreak on the continent.

In addition, the AFL Aussie rules football league has cut its season from 23 rounds to 17, with a decision on whether the season will start as scheduled to be announced tomorrow. The league also confirmed today that if one player tests positive for Covid-19, the AFL will shut down for at least 14 days.

In the UK, race meetings will be run behind closed doors from as early as Tuesday. The Racing Steering Group brought together to co-ordinate policy in the light of the threat from Covid-19 said this initial response will run until the end of March.

Scottish Borders track Kelso will be the first racecourse in Britain to go spectator-free this afternoon due to the Scottish government’s ban on events with crowds of more than 500.

Image: Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker