LAUSANNE, March 17: The International Olympic Committee will hold high-level talks on Tuesday, as doubts grow over the Tokyo Games and with some in Japan urging officials not to risk lives by pressing ahead during the coronavirus emergency.
While countries across Europe have gone into full lockdown after the continent was declared the new epicentre of the deadly virus by the World Health Organization, no decision is expected yet on a possible postponement, or indeed cancellation, of this summer�s Olympics.
The IOC�s executive board will meet via conference call to prepare an �information exchange� ahead of a series of talks with athletes� representatives, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and International Federations (IFs), planned for Tuesday and Wednesday.
The issue of qualifying will be a particular focus of Tuesday�s telephone meeting. The Boxing Road to Tokyo event in London on Monday became the latest qualifier to be put on hold.
Subsequent Americas and final world qualifiers, scheduled to take place in May, have also been put on ice.
However, the IOC told AFP its position �has not changed�.
�The numerous measures taken by authorities worldwide give us confidence and allow us to remain determined to organise the Olympic Games capable of bringing the whole world together in peace,� it said on Monday, with the opening ceremony on July 24 just 19 weeks away.
The IOC also said it was �proud of the solidarity and the flexibility� shown by athletes, the international federations and the National Olympic Committees faced with the �challenges regarding qualifiers in several sports�.
The body said it was �closely cooperating� with all athletes affected and �is showing all the necessary flexibility to adapt the qualifying systems�.
Officials like Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC chief Thomas Bach have repeatedly insisted preparations should continue to light the Olympic flame.
But with events from the Premier League to NBA basketball scrapped, and Japanese sport also at a standstill, even US President Donald Trump has suggested putting the Olympics on hold.
Japan has seen relatively few cases, with 814 testing positive and 24 dead. But some people on the streets of Tokyo voiced concern for the fans that would pour in from abroad.
Koki Miura, a 27-year-old employee at an internet company, told AFP: �To be honest, even if Japan overcomes this crisis, we wouldn�t receive visitors from the world. I think we�d better not hold it. We cannot sacrifice people�s lives for it,� added Miura, who said the Games should be postponed � if not cancelled outright. � AFP