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Olympic chiefs prepare for 'successful' Tokyo 2020

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Lausanne (AFP)

The International Olympic Committee said Tuesday it was busy with preparations for a "successful" Summer Games in Tokyo in less than five months and at a time when the coronavirus outbreak is widening.

IOC president Thomas Bach, speaking at the opening of the Olympic body's two-day executive board meeting in Lausanne, said: "We are preparing for a successful Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020."

The IOC, he later added, remained "fully committed to" and "very confident of" that success.

"We will continue this regular consultation with this taskforce to be able to address any development which would occur."

Many sporting events around the world have either been cancelled or postponed in the wake of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

More than 3,100 people have died and over 90,000 have been infected in more than 60 countries worldwide.

The vast majority of cases are in China, but South Korea, Italy and Iran have emerged as the countries with the most cases outside the epicentre.

The virus has infected at least 230 people across Japan and been linked to five deaths.

Following its board meeting, the IOC issued a statement in which it "expressed its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020".

- Joint taskforce -

The IOC heard a report on "all the measures taken so far to address the coronavirus situation, which was followed by a comprehensive discussion".

"A joint taskforce had already been created in mid-February, involving the IOC, Tokyo 2020, the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and the World Health Organization (WHO)," the IOC said.

"The IOC EB (executive board) appreciates and supports the measures being taken, which constitute an important part of Tokyo's plans to host safe and secure Games.

"The IOC will continue to follow the advice of WHO, as the leading United Nations agency on this topic."

The IOC also welcomed the close collaboration and flexibility between sporting federations, Olympic committees and governments with regard to the preparations for the Games, and particularly the qualification events.

"All stakeholders continue to work closely together to address the challenges of the coronavirus," it said.

"The IOC EB encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The IOC will keep supporting the athletes by providing the latest information and developments, which are accessible for athletes worldwide on the Athlete365 website."

IOC president Bach earlier said that the board meeting would also be used to "prepare many of the final decisions that we will have to take" at a first pre-Games EB meeting between June 15-17, also in Lausanne.

"We will have to make some proposals for the session in Tokyo."

The IOC EB is also set to meet on July 18-19 in Tokyo, with the Olympics running from July 24-August 9.

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