Tokyo Governor Yurilo Koike has hit back at “inappropriate” claims that London could host the 2020 Olympics if the Japanese capital is unable to this summer due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Japan 2020’s organising committee has been defiant in its plans to press ahead with this year’s Olympic Games, but the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a global emergency has seen a number of sporting events postponed and cancelled due to the virus.
The Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, start of the Chinese Super League football season and all tennis and golf events in China have been postponed, along with many other events affecting athletics and the Olympics, while on Thursday it was announced that the nearby South Korean K-League will be postponed due to the number of cases in the country.
The developments have led to growing pressure on Tokyo as they prepare to host the Summer Games for the second time in their history, 56 years on from the inaugural Tokyo Olympics in 1964, and the suggestion was made on Wednesday by the Conservative party’s London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey that the English capital is ready to step in if an alternative is needed.
“London can host the #Olympics in 2020,” he said on Twitter. “Given the ongoing disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, I urge the Olympic Committee to seriously consider how London could stand ready to host the Olympics should the need arise.
“We have the infrastructure and the experience, and if I am elected I will make sure London is ready to host the biggest sporting celebration again, if we are called on in an hour of need,” he said.
Last week, chief executive of Tokyo 2020 Yoshiro Mori attacked "irresponsible rumours" about Tokyo hosting the Games.
"With regards to the coronavirus, there are many irresponsible rumours but I would like to make it clear again that we are not considering postponing or cancelling the Games," Mr Mori said.
"We would like to co-ordinate with the national government and act in a calm manner."
The International Olympic Committee has said the WHO advised it that there was no case for contingency plans to cancel or relocate the Games from Tokyo, while Games organisers have set up a taskforce to work with public health officials to ensure everything is in place to stage the Games as planned.
Despite London hosting the Olympics as recently as 2012, much of the infrastructure has been removed or altered, while the London Olympic Stadium has been repurposed to allow West Ham United Football Club to adopt it as its new home.
The coronavirus outbreak has left more than 2,200 dead and infected more than 76,000 people around the world, and fears surrounding the virus in Japan increased given passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship do not have to placed in further segregation upon their return to the Asian country, raising fears over their quarantine practises.