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Coronavirus ‘could see Olympics cancelled’

Games on: Olympic organisers hope it will be business as usual PICTURE: AP

A SENIOR member of the International Olympic Committee gave Tokyo a three-month deadline to avert the coronavirus threat ahead of this summer’s Games.

Dick Pound, a former Canadian swimming champion who has been on the IOC since 1978, spoke out as the viral outbreak of coronavirus, which has killed 2,700 people globally, continues to cause concern throughout the sporting world.

The Olympics in Japan, where four deaths from the virus have been reported, starts on July 24 and Pound said: ‘You could certainly go to two months out if you had to. A lot of things have to start happening. You’ve got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels, the media folks will be in there building their studios.

‘This is the new war and you have to face it. In and around that time, I’d say folks are going to have to ask, “Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo, or not?”’

Pound suggested ‘you’re probably looking at a cancellation’ rather than a postponement in the worst-case scenario but more positively added: ‘As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo. All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual.’

A number of sporting events have already been cancelled, including April’s Chinese Grand Prix. Five of this weekend’s Serie A matches will be played behind closed doors.

And it has emerged Italy’s final two Six Nations games, in Ireland and at home to England, are under threat with organisers ‘monitoring very closely’ the situation.

On the Dublin game, Ireland’s minister for health Simon Harris said: ‘The very clear view of the public health emergency team was that this game should not go ahead.’