While Japan has remained defiant against the idea of cancelling the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, its Olympic Committee's deputy chief Kozo Tashima has now tested positive for COVID-19. Tashima said in a statement, issued via the Japan Football Association, that his test result for the novel coronavirus showed positive.
The former soccer player said that he had visited several places in Europe in the past few weeks for a business trip. He went to Belfast to attend the general annual meeting of the International Football Association Board and then headed to Amsterdam for a presentation at a UEFA meeting on Japan’s bid for the 2023 women’s World Cup.
The 62-year-old said that the level of nervousness against the novel coronavirus was not the same as now when he visited Europe in early March. Tashima also travelled to the United States to watch the Japanese women’s team play and to lobby for the World Cup. The JOC deputy chief’s infection has again raised doubts over the possibility of the Olympic games in a safe environment.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed on March 17 that the Group of Seven (G7) leaders have supported the current plan of “complete” Olympics games even after the coronavirus pandemic. Abe reportedly told the G7 leaders that Japan is doing everything in power to prepare for the games and they want to aim for a complete event as proof that “mankind can defeat the new coronavirus”.
At a news conference, Japan’s Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto said that the term “complete” referred to holding the event as scheduled in the presence of spectators. Earlier, Hashimoto had dismissed the speculations over possible cancellation or postponement of Tokyo Olympics saying it is “inconceivable”. Hashimoto told the Parliament that the athletes have been making adjustments and preparations for this once-in-four-years event and it is inconceivable to cancel or postpone it.
(With inputs from agencies)