TOKYO, Japan. — The deadly Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could impact Japan’s preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer, a senior organizer has warned.
The virus has infected over 28,000 people across more than 25 countries and territories and claimed more than 560 lives — the vast majority of cases and all but two deaths in mainland China. At least 45 cases have been reported in Japan, including 20 people onboard a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama Bay.
“I am extremely worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games,” said Toshiro Muto, chief executive of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK. “I hope that it will be stamped out as soon as possible.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated Monday that the Games would proceed as planned.
However, the Games are due to open in less than six months, and Muto’s comments came as Japanese health officials raced to check passengers and crew aboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner, which docked off Yokohama port Monday.
The Princess Cruises ship was placed in lockdown at the Japanese port, with 3,700 people quarantined on board after it was revealed that an infected passenger flew into Tokyo and spent a few days on the ship.
So far 20 people on the ship have been confirmed with the coronavirus.
There are still more than 100 samples awaiting test results. A total of 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew members were on board, Princess Cruises said in a statement earlier this week.
On Wednesday, the Japanese defense ministry docked a quarantine ferry at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, central Japan, The 17,000-ton ferry has 94 rooms and will be ready to accommodate Japanese returnees from China, if needed.
(PHOTO: Clive Rose/Getty Images)