The opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is still four months away, but officials insist the Games will go on as planned, despite the global coronavirus panic.
But the deadly and still-mysterious infection caused by the virus, known as COVID-19, has already begun to affect preparations for the Summer Games.
Monday brought news that the coronavirus claimed 254 more lives in China — by far the highest daily total yet — and confirmed cases worldwide have risen beyond 60,000, with 2000 deaths.
Even if the Tokyo Olympics go off as planned, and the summer heat quells the spread of the virus, as many hope, it will have made an impact on the Games. The preparation of some athletes, especially those in China, has already suffered;
– At home, many of China’s Olympic hopefuls are confined to closed training bases, unable to venture abroad due to entry restrictions placed by countries to contain the virus that has killed so many people.
– Overseas, a slew of China’s national teams remain in hastily arranged training camps scattered across the globe, unable to return home for fear of being swept up in virus-related travel restrictions.
The epidemic has also presented severe challenges to the Chinese women’s hockey team iin preparation for Tokyo. But as of now, preparations for all teams are going smoothly and no suspected case has occurred.
The Chinese women’s hockey team thankfully, left their native country before the disease gained a foothold there and relocated to Durban, along with their Japanese counterparts.
They will now play some friendly matches against South Africa and Ireland.
The Chinese hockey officials are doing everything they can to minimise the impact of this deadly epidemic, including having players train in safe.
Uncertainty existed in the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympics, in the form of the Zika virus, but global interest in the new coronavirus has created an unprecedented scenario.
“This is a real test to examine athletic teams’ ability to compete in complex and adverse situations. Quality performers have to show their mental strength by dealing — in a positive way — with any disruption,” one official from the Chinese Hockey Federation said.