Olympics: Tokyo 2020 wheelchair rugby test event canceled over coronavirus


TOKYO (Reuters) – This month’s wheelchair rugby test event has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, Tokyo 2020 organizers said on Tuesday.

The event, which had been scheduled for March 12-15, is the latest sporting event to be canceled in Japan as concerns mount over Tokyo’s ability to host the 2020 Olympics scheduled to begin in July.

Test events are dress rehearsals ahead of the actual contests in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The sports climbing test event, scheduled to begin on Friday, will be held but without athletes. Instead, organizers said Tokyo 2020 staff would take the place of athletes to “test operational readiness”.

A boccia competition which was to double as a test event for this year’s Tokyo Paralympic Games was postponed last month, and the Tokyo marathon on Sunday was closed to general participation with only elite athletes allowed to take part.

The J.League announced that all domestic soccer matches have been postponed until March 15, while Japanese pre-season baseball matches are being played behind closed doors.

Tokyo 2020 organizers said they had been informed of the cancellation of the rugby test event by the Japan Para Sports Association. The test will instead be held in some form in April, they added.

Both Tokyo 2020 organizers and the International Olympic Committee have stressed that the Olympics, due to run from July 24 to Aug. 9, are scheduled to go ahead as planned despite the coronavirus outbreak.

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 Organization has listed Japan as one of the countries with the greatest coronavirus concerns.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Pravin Char