Coronavirus outbreak threatening Olympics; BOC paying attention

The Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) has broken its silence on the pending Olympic Games, and for now, it appears that the games will go on.

The Games of the 32nd Olympiad is set for this summer, July 24 to August 9, in Tokyo, the capital of Japan, and thousands of athletes from more than 200 nations around the world are set to take part.

However, the coronavirus outbreak in China and its subsequent transfer to neighboring nations has raised concern in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the staging of its biggest event. So far, there are more than 81,000 confirmed cases worldwide – more than 78,000 in China alone. More than 2,700 have died.

Japan is the third-most affected nation with 178 confirmed cases, and additionally, the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship remains docked at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port where it has been for weeks. Yokohama lies about 17 miles south of the Japanese capital.

According to reports, a total of 705 people who were on the ship tested positive, at least 150 of whom are crew members. Experts deemed a weeks-long quarantine process as unethical and ineffective, and Japanese government officials finally came forth and admitted that the process may have been flawed.

Meanwhile the BOC is paying particular attention to the developments as it relates to the games going on and the safety of the Bahamian athletes. Already, led by World Champion Steven Gardiner and Olympic Champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, a handful of Bahamian athletes have qualified for the summer games.

A statement from the BOC Games Secretariat, with particular reference to the 2020 Summer Olympics, read: “Whilst a senior member of the IOC spoke to the press recently about the virus, we have not received an official position from the IOC. In this regard, we will continue to plan for the games in its usual manner. The BOC will continue to monitor the events. The welfare of our team will not be compromised; we trust the deliberate course of actions the IOC is taking – they have our full confidence, along with the relevant international sporting federations. We will continue to monitor advisory from the World Health Organization and in the fullness of time an official announcement will be made on the Olympic Games. We wish to encourage our athletes to continue their training and preparation for the games and for our national federations to give them their full support.”

The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) has announced that the necessary precautions are being taken, and for now, the games will go on. A statement was released stating that the preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games are continuing as planned.

Consequently, the IOC has also stated that it will take all the necessary measures to address the situation going forward.

“Countermeasures against infectious diseases constitute an important part of Tokyo 2020’s plans to host a safe and secure Olympic Games,” read an IOC statement. “Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all the relevant organizations that are carefully monitoring any incidence of infectious diseases, and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all the organizations concerned. In addition, the IOC is in contact with the World Health Organization as well as its own medical experts. We have confidence in the relevant authorities, in particular in Japan and China. Tokyo 2020 is working in cooperation with the national and international federations ahead of test events and is following guidance from Japanese authorities. The torch relay is expected to take place as planned. The situation is being monitored carefully and Tokyo 2020 is collaborating closely with the regional prefectures to assess the local context. The IOC is working with international federations and the relevant NOCs (National Olympic Committees) concerning the participation of their athletes in qualifying events for the Olympic Games.”

Four years ago, a total of 11,238 athletes from 207 countries from around the world competed in 306 events in 41 sporting disciplines at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Olympics is the biggest multi-sport event worldwide, held once every four years. The Bahamas has competed in every Summer Olympics since 1952, winning 14 total medals – six gold, two silver and six bronze, with the exception of the boycotted games in 1980. Those 1980 games were held in Moscow, Soviet Union, in present-day Russia, and the American-led boycott was in response to the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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