Tokyo governor: ‘Inappropriate’ to suggest moving 2020 Olympics because of coronavirus

A crowd, many in face masks, in Tokyo near a large, white sign with "2020" and Japanese script in red.
People wearing masks wait to cross a road in the Shibuya district Feb. 2 in Tokyo.
(Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images)

Even as the coronavirus outbreak forced organizers to postpone some preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics this weekend, Japanese officials lashed back at a suggestion the Games might have to be canceled or moved.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike expressed anger at comments from a British politician who said London is ready to serve as a replacement host.

“It’s inappropriate to say something that will make the coronavirus an issue for the mayoral race at a time when it has attracted global interest,” Koike told reporters at a news conference.


Earlier in the week, Shaun Bailey, a mayoral candidate in Britain’s capital, tweeted: “London can host the Olympics in 2020. We have the infrastructure and the experience. And due to the coronavirus outbreak, the world might need us to step up.”

London previously hosted the Games in 2012.

Some health officials have stated it is much too early to anticipate the outbreak’s impact on an event that is still five months off. Others, however, have expressed concerns.

Tokyo 2020 organizers and the International Olympic Committee have repeatedly insisted the outbreak will not impact the Games, scheduled for July 24 through Aug. 9, or the Paralympic Games, which begin Aug. 25.

The spread of the coronavirus caused organizers of next month’s 2020 Tokyo Marathon to downsize their massive race to a small field of elite runners.

Feb. 17, 2020

Those claims continued Friday even though organizers postponed training for volunteers this weekend.

“There are no considerations of canceling the Games, nor will the postponements of these activities have an impact on the overall Games preparation,” officials said.

There have been more than 75,000 reported cases of the virus, named COVID-19, worldwide. Many of the 700 or so people who have tested positive in Japan have been on a quarantined cruise ship.