Tokyo Olympics organisers blast virus rumours, say Games will go ahead
Tokyo: Tokyo 2020 Olympics organisers said Thursday the Games would "go ahead as planned", slamming misinformation over the new coronavirus for triggering panic.
Chief executive officer Toshiro Muto revealed that organisers have set up a task force to combat the fast-spreading disease that has killed over 560 people and infected at least 28,000 -- the vast majority in mainland China -- but promised that the Games would be not derailed from their July 24 start date.
"The Olympics will go ahead as planned," he told reporters after a project review of the Paralympics, which are scheduled to take place after the Olympics.
"It is important to remain objective and cool-headed. We don't want to alarm the public. The infection is still limited and there is no problem staging the Olympics based on the current situation."
International Paralympic Committee (IPC) spokesman Craig Spence complained that scare-mongering had created an "info-demic" that could skew public perception in the run-up to the Olympics and Paralympics. "Fear is spreading quicker than the virus," he said. "It's important we quell that fear. Only 191 of the total cases are outside mainland China, so let's put things into perspective.
"If you compare those rates with the common flu, they are still relatively small numbers," added Spence.
"The WHO has not declared this a pandemic. We dealt with the Zika virus in Rio and in these matters we need to rely on the experts.
"We will follow the advice of the World Health Organization. Every organising committee looks into countermeasures, and we have measures in place from previous Olympics and Paralympics here in Tokyo. It is standard practice, it's business as usual." More than 20 countries have confirmed cases of the flu-like coronavirus. Japan has had no reported deaths so far, but 45 cases have been detected, including at least 20 people on a cruise ship carrying more than 3,700 passengers and crew quarantined off Yokohama. - AFP