By Jack Tarrant
TOKYO (Reuters) – The Japan Para Sports Association and Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic organizers moved to cancel this month’s wheelchair rugby test event on Tuesday due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The wheelchair rugby test event, scheduled for March 12-15, is the latest sporting event to be cancel led in Japan as concerns mount over Tokyo’s ability to host the 2020 Olympics scheduled to begin in July.
A boccia competition which was to double as a test event for this year’s Tokyo Paralympic Games was postponed last month, whilst the Tokyo marathon on Sunday was closed to general participation with only elite athletes allowed to take part.
The J.League also announced that all domestic soccer matches have been postponed until March 15, whilst Japanese pre-season baseball matches are also being played behind closed doors.
“The Japan Para Sports Association (JPSA) informed us the 2020 Japan Para Wheelchair Rugby Championships, scheduled for 12 to 15 March, has been cancel led,” read a statement from Tokyo 2020 organizers.
“Tokyo 2020 nevertheless will carry out the wheelchair rugby test event in some form in April, after ensuring a safe and secure environment.”
Both Tokyo 2020 organizers and the International Olympic Committee have stressed that the Olympics, due to run July 24 – Aug. 9, are scheduled to go ahead as planned despite the coronavirus outbreak.
“We will continue to stay in close collaboration with all relevant organizations as we prepare to deliver a safe and secure Tokyo 2020 Games,” concluded the statement.
Tokyo 2020’s sports climbing test event, scheduled to begin on Friday, has not been cancel led.
Over 3,000 people have died from the virus, which has spread to more than 60 countries. In Japan, the number of infections has almost reached 1,000 and 12 people have died.
The World Health Organisation has listed Japan as one of the countries with the greatest coronavirus concerns.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Himani Sarkar)