International Olympic Committee's point man for the Tokyo Games has
insisted there's no deadline to call off the event and that it was still
going ahead as planned.
John Coates, chairperson of the Tokyo co-ordination commission, was
speaking before his return from Switzerland to Australia, where he is
facing a mandatory two-week quarantine.
The Lausanne-based IOC is set for emergency talks on Tuesday as doubts
grow over whether it remains feasible to hold the Games during the
coronavirus emergency, with world sport largely grinding to a halt.
Senior IOC member Dick Pound suggested last month that a final call would be made by late May.
But Coates, who is also president of the Australian Olympic committee, disputed the timeline.
"The IOC didn't recognise any dates that Dick came up with and I
think Dick backed off that as well," he told Tuesday's Sydney Morning
"It's all proceeding to start on 24 July.
"It's never been the IOC's position. It was Dick's idea," he added of the apparent deadline.
"There is four months to go."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic
Committee chief Thomas Bach have repeatedly insisted preparations should
continue as scheduled even as the virus scare intensifies.
The IOC's executive board is due to meet via conference call to
prepare an "information exchange" ahead of a series of talks with
athletes' representatives, National Olympic Committees and International
The issue of qualifying is expected to be a particular focus of the
telephone meeting, after a long list of events were called off.
"The difficulty for those who have qualified or will qualify is they
won't get any more international competition," admitted Coates, who said
it will also be difficult to get athletes into Japan without further
"Japan has got some restrictions on athletes but I know that the Chinese are probably the best organised," he said.
"The Chinese are in various parts of Europe and the last I heard is
they're bringing them all together in a university in Paris where
they'll be fully contained, 600 of them.
"They will go straight from confinement there, straight into Japan. They won't put anyone on a plane who has got coronavirus."
Coates will go into a two weeks' isolation on his return home after
Australia imposed strict travel rules to counter the spread of the
He welcomed the tough measures being taken by Australia and other
countries to tackle the growing crisis, but criticised Europe's
"Despite a bit of personal inconvenience, I'm very happy that
countries are taking these steps that clearly some of the European
countries should have taken earlier," he said.