As virus spreads, next casualty could be Tokyo Olympics | Inquirer Sports

As virus spreads, next casualty could be Tokyo Olympics

/ 03:06 PM March 23, 2020

Tokyo Station

A countdown clock for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is reflected in a puddle of water outside Tokyo Station in Tokyo, Monday, March 23, 2020. The IOC will take up to four weeks to consider postponing the Tokyo Olympics amid mounting criticism of its handling of the coronavirus crisis that now includes Canada saying it won’t send a team to the games this year and the leader of track and field, the biggest sport at the games, also calling for a delay. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

TOKYO — As infections soared in Europe and the United States and the world economy spiraled downward, Japan on Monday hinted at the next possible victim of the globe-spanning coronavirus: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged that a postponement of the crown jewel of the sporting world could be unavoidable. Canada and Australia then added to the immense pressure that has been steadily mounting on organizers by suggesting that they wouldn’t send athletes to Tokyo this summer.

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“If it is difficult to hold in a complete way, a decision of postponement would be unavoidable,” Abe said.

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The massive headache of changing the logistics of an event that has taken years to prepare for — not to mention the huge cost involved and the blow to national pride — would simply be the latest example of something once unthinkable becoming reality as the fabric of human life continues to unravel before the virus’ march.

The accumulation of canceled events, lost or altered work and a general, widespread shrinking in spending and interaction has economies worldwide suffering. In the United States, politicians were negotiating an enormous rescue package that could be worth nearly $2 trillion.

A surge in infections has caused a critical shortage of medical supplies in many places. Spain erected a field hospital in a convention center. British health workers pleaded for more gear, saying they felt like “cannon fodder.” And President Donald Trump ordered mobile hospital centers be sent to Washington, California and New York.

As the shadow of the virus widens, there has also been a who’s who of politicians and celebrities announcing they’d tested positive or were taking quarantine precautions.

Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky became the first U.S. senator to announce he was infected. Opera superstar Plácido Domingo announced he has COVID-19, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel put herself into quarantine after a doctor who gave her a vaccine tested positive.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or coughing. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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Italy’s infections continued to spike Sunday, hitting 59,000 cases and 5,476 deaths, and India’s prime minister asked, with mixed results, his nation of 1.3 billion people to stay home.

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In Australia, a ban began Monday on bars, gyms, cinemas, nightclubs, restaurants and a host of other places where large groups of people gather.

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TAGS: 2020 Olympics, COVID-19, Japan, pandemic, Shinzo Abe, Tokyo Olympics

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