Questions remain over Tokyo Olympic Games as Coronavirus forces shutdown of sports events

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has admitted that the escalating Coronavirus outbreak is posing challenges for athletes trying to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

The list of sports events being cancelled due to the virus is getting longer each day – and has included many of the elite events acting as de-facto qualifiers for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

An event taking place in Tokyo, designed to train volunteers for the Games, has also been postponed from February to May.

The Tokyo Games are set to take place in the Japanese capital from 24 July to 9 August.

Italy, one of the countries worst affected by COVID-19 (the strain of Coronavirus that has caused the epidemic) has made a decision that all sporting events will be played behind closed doors until 3 April in an effort to contain the bug.

The decision will affect all Italy's Serie A games – one of the world's leading football leagues – while the Six Nations rugby match between Italy and England has also been postponed.

Speaking during the IOC's executive board meeting, Bach said that – despite the widespread effect the virus was having on global sport – there are no "ongoing discussions" over moving or postponing the Tokyo Games.

"I can tell you that in the meeting of the IOC executive board neither the word 'cancellation' nor the word 'postponement' was even mentioned," Bach said.

He added, however, that a joint task force led by IOC and the organising committee of Tokyo 2020 had been formed to discuss and assess the potential threat posed by COVID-19.

"Of course we are a responsible organisation, this is why we have this joint taskforce which is having regular meetings and we are addressing any issues which may arise, but we are not speculating on any kind of future developments," Bach said.

Analysis: COVID-19 and its effect on sport

A list of events cancelled or postponed by the outbreak, by sport:


  • World Cup, Shanghai (May 4-10) cancelled


  • World indoor championships, Nanjing, 13-15 March
  • Hong Kong Marathon, 9 February
  • Asian indoor championships, Hangzhou 12-13 February


  • China Masters, Hainan 25 February - 1 March
  • German Open, Mulheim 3-8 March
  • Polish Open, Krakow, 26-29 March


  • Olympic test event, Zhangjiakou, China, 27 February - 2 March


  • World Cup in Wujiang, China 18-19 April
  • World Cup in Chongqing, China 22 April

F1 (Motor racing)

  • F1 Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, 19 April


  • Asian Champions League - a number of matches involving Chinese teams postponed
  • Chinese Super League, start of league postponed
  • K League in South Korea, start of league postponed
  • J League in Japan, all matches postponed from 25 February to 11 March
  • Swiss Super League and Challenge League, all games postponed until 15 March


  • HSBC Women's World Championship, Singapore 27 February - 1 March
  • China Open, Shenzhen, 23-26 April


  • Women's Challenge Cup of Asia, Manila, Philippines, 23-28 February


  • World championships, Xiamen, 25-31 May


  • MotoGP – two Grand Prixs cancelled
  • Qatar Grand Prix in Doha on 8 March
  • Thailand Grand Prix in Buriram on 22 March


  • Asia and Oceania Olympic qualifying regatta in Chungju, South Korea, 27-30 April


  • Six Nations: Ireland vs. Italy, Dublin, 7 March
  • Six Nations: Italy vs. England, Rome, 14 March
  • Hong Kong Sevens, 3-5 April
  • Asia women's championship, Hong Kong, 14-22 March


  • Alpine World Cup, Yanqing, China 15-16 February


  • Short track world championships, Seoul, 13-15 March


  • Asian water polo championships, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, 12-16 February
  • Diving world series, Beijing 7-9 March
  • China Olympic trials, Qingdao, 28 March - 4 April


  • World team championships, Busan, South Korea, 22-29 May
  • South Korea Open, Busan 16-21 June
  • Australian Open, Geelong, 23-28 June


  • Asian Olympic qualifying tournament, 10-11 April


  • WTA: Xi'an Open, 13-19 April


  • Olympic mixed relay qualifier, Chengdu, China, 9 May
  • World Cup, Chengdu, China, 10 May


  • Beach volleyball World Cup, Yangzhou, China 22-26 April


  • Olympic women's qualifying tournament, Trieste, Italy 8-15 March

International Olympic Committee  IOC  Thomas Bach  Coronavirus  Tokyo 2020 
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International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has admitted that the escalating Coronavirus outbreak is posing challenges for athletes trying to qualify for Tokyo 2020. The list of sports events being cancelled due to the virus is getting longer each day – and has included many of the elite events acting as de-facto qualifiers for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. An event taking place in Tokyo, designed to train volunteers
President Thomas Bach said the IOC has set up a joint task force to assess the potential threat posed by COVID-19 / Shutterstock
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