While the global sporting calendar is in disarray amid Coronavirus fears, the Japanese men’s hockey team continue to train in Kakamigahara, normally on their regular schedule, but are taking precautionary measures to prevent any case of the virus.
Japanese men’s hockey teams Coach Siegfried Aikman who is currently in Japan told ‘The Dragflick’ that preparations for Tokyo 2020 continue as planned, despite the Coronavirus crisis.
The Coronavirus infection rate is relatively low in Japan as compared to other countries.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of March 17, 2020, there were a total of 824 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Japan.
By prefecture, Hokkaido has the most cases at 152, followed by Aichi with 122, Osaka with 108, and Tokyo with 90. Kanagawa has 55 cases and Hyogo has 82.
However, there have been no reports of an outbreak in Kakamigahara, where the Japanese team are currently centralized and training,
Head Coach Siegfried Aikman who is a Dutch National and has left his family back in the Netherlands to be in Japan with the team said;
“The virus is under control in Kakamigahara and there have been no outbreaks here. There are only two cases of an outbreak in the neighbouring city of Ogaki and the number have not increased.”
The Japanese team were also scheduled to travel to Holland for a match against the Dutch Men’s Hockey team from March 24 – 26. However, that tour was cancelled as the Dutch government called out for a strict cancellation of all sports events and matches.
“Almost every country is locked-out which makes it hard for us to travel. The last international match we played was in November 2019. But, the good news is that we will use this opportunity to practice [more],” Coach Aikman said.
Meanwhile, the IOC and Japanese officials have insisted they are working toward staging the Olympics 2020 as planned despite the escalating coronavirus pandemic.
In its statement, the IOC urged athletes to continue with their training despite mounting speculation about the impact of the virus on the games.
“The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage,” the statement said.