Olympics: Rugby sevens Tokyo 2020 test event canceled due to coronavirus concerns


TOKYO (Reuters) – The Japanese Rugby Football Union announced on Wednesday that next month’s Asia Sevens Invitational, which doubles as a test event for rugby sevens at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has been canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

The tournament, due to be held April 25-26, is the latest Tokyo 2020 test event to be canceled as questions remain over the Japanese capital’s ability to host the Games, which start on July 24.

This month’s wheelchair rugby test event was also canceled, whilst the trial run for new Olympic discipline sports climbing, to begin on Friday, will be held without athletes.

Instead, organizers said Tokyo 2020 staff would climb the walls to “test operational readiness”.

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

“Tokyo 2020 has received notification from Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) that the Asia Sevens Invitational 2020 tournament, scheduled to take place between 25 and 26 April, has been canceled due to concerns relating to novel coronavirus,” read a statement from Games organisers.

“After confirming it is safe to do so, Tokyo 2020 nevertheless will carry out the tests in some form and will consult with the International Olympic Committee, World Rugby and other relevant organizations to determine the content of such tests.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the Japanese government and Games organizers both reiterated that plans to host the Tokyo Olympics remained on track.

In Switzerland on Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee gave their unequivocal backing to the Games, urging athletes to prepare “full steam” despite the coronavirus threat.

Coronavirus cases in Japan have now hit the 1,000 mark, public broadcaster NHK said. Of those, 706 are from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, while 12 have died, the health ministry said.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman