World Sports News in Brief

Japan says Tokyo Olympics may be postponed due to coronavirus

Monday, 2020-03-23 09:16:05
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A woman wearing a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walks past the Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, Japan March 13, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said for the first time on Monday that the Tokyo Olympic Games may need to be postponed if the event cannot be held in its "complete form" due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Olympic Committee said on Sunday after an emergency meeting that it is stepping up its "scenario planning" for the 2020 Games due to start on July 24, including a possible postponement. Abe said that while cancelling the Games was not an option, a delay was now on the cards if that was the only way to hold the event in its complete form.

* Japanese Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto said on Monday she was relived that the International Olympic Committee had ruled out a cancellation of the Tokyo Games, adding that Japan would follow the committee's decision on how to proceed. Preparations for the Olympics will go forward as planned for now, but the government will support whatever decision is made, she said.

* The Canadian Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee said on Sunday that Team Canada will not participate in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020 due to concerns about the outbreak of the coronavirus.

* Rugby Australia has shelved plans for a domestic competition in lieu of Super Rugby following a government crackdown on non-essential travel because of the coronavirus pandemic. The remodelled competition had a planned start date of April 3 but had been suspended until at least May 1, Rugby Australia said on Monday.

* Real Madrid forward Marco Asensio has missed the entire season with a serious knee injury but the time away from the pitch paid unexpected dividends when he was crowned champion of La Liga's FIFA 20 video game tournament on Sunday.

* Formula One's Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June looks set to become the latest casualty of a season that has yet to get started due to the coronavirus outbreak. The race in Baku was originally scheduled for June 7 as the eighth round of the championship but all the earlier races, including the showcase Monaco Grand Prix, have been cancelled or called off.

* Former Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini has been diagnosed with COVID-19 following his return to China, the Belgian's Chinese Super League club Shandong Luneng announced on its official website on Sunday. Fellaini, who joined Shandong last January from the English Premier League side, returned to the country on Friday to join up with his club and tested positive for the coronavirus.

* The Australian Football League's attempt to forge on with the season despite the coronavirus outbreak lasted just one round before it was shut down on Sunday in the wake of a government crackdown on non-essential travel. The AFL, which runs the top flight Australian rules league, the National Rugby League and soccer's A-League had decided to press on with their seasons behind closed doors last week after bans on gatherings of more than 500 people.

* Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez has urged football fans to be patient about the suspension of domestic competitions because of the coronavirus. The Argentinian Football Association last week postponed all matches until at least March 31 to slow the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

* The Chinese national football team has announced that it is expected to return to China in a few days' time, scotching rumours that Beijing had rejected its request to come home amid coronavirus containment measures. The Chinese squad, which has been training in Dubai since March 4, issued a statement on Sunday on its official Weibo account dismissing the allegations.

* Real Betis and Valencia are among a host of European clubs interested in signing River Plate right-back Gonzalo Montiel, according to media reports in Argentina. Betis are frontrunners to secure the 23-year-old as a backup to Brazilian Emerson, who is currently on loan from Barcelona.

* Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge says despite the loneliness of training runs without any partners, he is determined to remain fit and ready for whenever sports are resumed. Kipchoge, who was due to run at the London Marathon on April 26, but saw the event postponed, has been forced to self-quarantine as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the world.

Reuters, Xinhua