Impact of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic on the 2020 Summer Olympics

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The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic has impacted the 2020 Summer Olympics.[1] Many qualifying matches have been cancelled or postponed.[2] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on 24 March that the Games will be postponed until 2021.[3][4]

Background[edit]

The 2020 Summer Olympics is scheduled to take place in Tokyo starting at the end of July. The government of Japan has been taking extra precautions to help minimise the outbreak's worst impact.[1][5] The Tokyo organising committee and the International Olympic Committee have been monitoring the outbreak's impact in Japan.[5]

In the run-up to the Olympics, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has been carrying out catch-up inoculations for the large portions of the Japanese population left unprotected from common infectious diseases due to the inoculation policies of the last few decades.[6] For example, Japan has no mandatory mumps vaccination and is fourth in the world in mumps cases, after China, Nepal and Burkina Faso, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).[6] Following the outbreaks of rubella in Japan, which prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to warn pregnant women of travel to Japan in 2018, the Ministry has also been conducting inoculation of middle-aged men who did not receive rubella vaccinations in the 1970s and 1980s.[6]

Torch relay[edit]

The traditional lighting ceremony was held on 12 March at Olympia, Greece, and the torch was handed over to the first torchbearer, Anna Korakaki. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was the first lighting ceremony since 1984 to be held without spectators.[7] The torch was due to visit 31 cities and 15 landmarks across Greece,[8][9][10] but its journey was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.[11] A small ceremony was held in Sparta on 13 March before the Greek phase of the torch relay was suspended.[12] The handover ceremony was held at Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on 19 March.[8][9] The torch arrived at Sendai, Japan on 21 March 2020. The welcoming ceremony was scaled down to avoid crowds; however, more than 50,000 people converged on the site to see the flame, raising concerns about further spread of the virus.[13][14] The route through Japan was designed to be within easy reach of most of the population, to attract as many spectators as possible, which would make it impossible to avoid large crowds if the torch relay had gone ahead as planned.[15]

Qualifying match cancellation and postponement[edit]

Archery[edit]

On 16 March 2020, the World Archery Federation announced the suspension of two continental qualifying tournaments, the Pan American Championships, set to be held in Monterrey, Mexico from 23–29 March, and the Oceania Championships, scheduled to be hosted by Fiji from 5–9 April. The decision was made as part of a larger suspension of all World Archery-sanctioned international competitions until the end of April.[16]

Baseball[edit]

The Baseball Final Qualifying Tournament was originally scheduled to be held from April 1–5, 2020, but was postponed to June in order to protect the health and safety of players and spectators against the spread of the coronavirus.[17]

Basketball[edit]

Women's qualification[edit]

The 2020 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women was planned to be held in Foshan, China, from 6 to 9 February 2020.[18][19] The tournament was instead played in Belgrade, Serbia due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.[20]

3x3 Basketball[edit]

2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament was originally scheduled to take place 18 to 22 March. The FIBA postponed the tournaments due to the coronavirus pandemic until 2021.[2]

Boxing[edit]

The 2020 Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament was originally scheduled to be held in Wuhan, China from February 3–14, 2020 but was cancelled by local organizers amidst concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in Wuhan.[21] The qualifiers were instead held in Jordan.[22]

The 2020 European Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament in London, United Kingdom, supposed to be held from 14–24 March, was suspended after three days.[23]

Cycling[edit]

BMX[edit]

The last qualification event in freestyle BMX, the World Series, was originally scheduled to be held in Hiroshima, Japan from April 3–5; it has been postponed until next year.[2]

Football[edit]

Men's qualification[edit]

2020 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship was originally scheduled to take place between 20 March and 1 April 2020.[24] On 13 March 2020, CONCACAF suspended all upcoming competitions scheduled to take place over the next 30 days due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the new dates of the tournament to be confirmed later.[25]

Women's qualification[edit]

All matches in Group B of the third round of the 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament were originally scheduled to be held in China, but were moved to Australia.

On 22 January, the AFC moved the third round qualifiers Group B from Wuhan to Nanjing.[26][27]

On 26 January, as the coronavirus outbreak worsened in China, the Chinese Football Association withdrew their hosting rights, and all group matches were moved to Sydney in Australia.[28][29]

On 29 January, after the announcement of the venues and kick-off times,[30] and upon their arrival in Australia, the Chinese team and staff were subject to quarantine at a hotel in Brisbane for a term set to end on 5 February, after the first games were scheduled to be played.[31] On 31 January 2020, Football Federation Australia published the amended match schedule which allowed China to play their first match after the quarantine had ended.[32] Further changes to the schedule were announced on 2 and 5 February 2020.[33][34]

The play-off round is scheduled for 6 March 2020 (first legs hosted by third round group winners) and 11 March 2020 (second legs hosted by third round group runners-up). The two play-off round winners will qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the home leg of China was moved to Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney in Australia instead of in China.[35][36] The home leg of South Korea was originally scheduled to be played at Yongin Citizen Sports Park, Yongin, but had been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea. The Korea Football Association had urged that it must be played in South Korean territory even if the match is played behind closed doors, while the Chinese Football Association had urged that it must be switched to a neutral venue such as Australia due to the re-entry ban to Chinese nationals by the Australian Federal government.[37][38][39] On 28 February 2020, the AFC announced both legs were rescheduled to 9 and 14 April 2020.[40] On 9 March 2020, FIFA and AFC announced that play-off matches between South Korea and China were further postponed to 4 and 9 June 2020.[41][42][43]

Handball[edit]

2020 IHF Women's Olympic Qualification Tournaments was originally scheduled to take place 20 to 22 March. On 13 March 2020, the IHF postponed the tournaments due to the coronavirus pandemic until 2021.[44]

2020 IHF Men's Olympic Qualification Tournaments was originally scheduled to take place 17 to 19 April. On 13 March 2020, the IHF postponed the tournaments due to the coronavirus pandemic until 2021.[44]

Judo[edit]

All Olympic Judo qualifying match period will be extended until 30 June 2020.[45]

Rowing[edit]

American Continental Qualification Regatta, Asian & Oceania Continental Qualification Regatta, European Continental Qualification Regatta, and Final Qualification Regatta have been cancelled or postponed.[46][47]

Sailing[edit]

2020 Sailing World Cup, one of the sailing qualifiers, was postponed in mid-April until 2021.[2]

Volleyball[edit]

Beach volleyball[edit]

At least three of the final 10 events have been cancelled or postponed until next year.[2]

Water polo[edit]

2020 Men's Water Polo Olympic Qualification Tournament and 2020 Women's Water Polo Olympic Qualification Tournament was scheduled to take place in March but was rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic.[48]

2020 Asian Water Polo Championship, the Asian continental qualification for the 2020 Olympic water polo tournament, was scheduled to take place in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, February 12–16, 2020.[49] In late January the event was cancelled as the Kazakh Government suspended all flights and visas from China due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in the country.[50] In mid-February Asia Swimming Federation decided to use the final ranking of the 2018 Asian Games to allocate its continental quotas.[51]

Financial impact[edit]

According to an estimate conducted by Kansai University professor emeritus Katsuhiro Miyamoto and reported by the NHK, the cost of delaying the 2020 Olympics by one year will be 640.8 billion yen (US$5.8 billion), taking into account maintenance expenditures for the unused facilities, while canceling it completely would cost Japan 4.52 trillion yen (US$41.5 billion), based on operating expenses and loss of tourism activity.[52]

Doping tests[edit]

On 20 March 2020, the World Anti Doping Agency noted that the coronavirus outbreak was seriously affecting doping tests in advance of the games.[53] The IOC regulations required extensive testing in the months prior to the event. China had temporarily stopped testing in February,[54] and the United States, France, Great Britain and Germany had reduced testing by March. European anti-doping agencies raised concerns that blood and urine tests could not be performed, and that mobilizing the staff necessary to do so before the end of the pandemic would be a health risk.[53]

International response[edit]

In a February 2020 interview with City A.M., the Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey argued that London would be able to host the Olympic Games at the former London 2012 Olympic venues, should the Games need to be moved due to the ongoing disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.[55] Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike criticized Bailey's comment as inappropriate.[56] The organizers said on 3 March that the Olympics will go on as planned.[57]

On 12 March, U.S. president Donald Trump suggested that the Olympics should be postponed to 2021 or 2022.[58] However, the Japanese government disregarded Trump's suggestion and insisted that the Olympics would still continue with "safe and secure" preparations being planned. Nevertheless, an Olympic organizing committee board member stated that any decision to delay the Summer Games would need to be made before May.[59]

On 21 March, Norway's Olympic committee requested that the Games be delayed until the pandemic was under control. The president of the Slovenian Olympic Committee, Bogdan Gabrovec, suggested holding the Olympics in 2021 or 2022; if held in 2021, it would be the first Olympics to be held in an odd-numbered year.[60]

On 22 March, the IOC announced a deadline of four weeks to make a decision if the Games would continue as scheduled or be postponed to a later date; cancellation, however, was "not on the agenda".[61] The same day, the Netherlands' NOC*NSF issued a letter recommending that the Games be delayed until the pandemic was under control, and more certainty for athletes.[62] The same day, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee announced that they will not participate in the Games unless they are postponed to 2021.[63] On 23 March Australia stated that they won't send athletes if the games won't be postponed,[64] and the United Kingdom announced they would withdraw from the games if the coronavirus continues to spread as predicted.[65]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on 24 March that the Games will be postponed until 2021.[3][4]

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