Coronavirus puts paid to SportAccord in China; Tokyo 2020 not considering cancellation
SportAccord, the annual world sport and business summit, is the latest event to be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak in the Far East, with the announcement today that the 2020 edition will not go ahead in Beijing.
However, the organisers of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo insist that there are no plans to postpone or cancel their event.
SportAccord, which attracts almost 2,000 prominent sports officials each year, was due to take place in Beijing from 19 to 24 April.
However, in light of the coronavirus, which originated in China, the decision has been taken not to proceed with the event, and SportAccord is now exploring contingency options to see if it can take place in another location.
In a statement today, Raffaele Chiulli, said: “In the past few weeks, we have been following the development of the epidemic closely. The Chinese Government has taken effective efforts, unprecedented measures and all possible resources to combat the epidemic. We do believe that the Chinese Government and people in China have the capabilities to have the final win of the war against the virus.
“SportAccord has developed a mutual and respectful working relationship with the Local Organising Committee, which has displayed outstanding professionalism at all times during the excellent preparations for SportAccord 2020 in Beijing. We had no doubt that our hosts would deliver an exceptional SportAccord and we are grateful to Beijing for the support and all the efforts it has made for preparing SportAccord 2020.”
However, he added: “Considering the epidemic in China and around the world and taking into account the various factors of such force majeure situation and through consultation with the SportAccord 2020 Local Organising Committee, we have reached a difficult decision that SportAccord 2020 will not take place in Beijing. We will continue to collaborate with Beijing and China to promote the healthy development of the international sport community. We apologise for any inconvenience thus caused for International Sports Federations, registered partners, exhibitors and delegates concerned.”
SportAccord said that partners, exhibitors and delegates who had registered to attend will be kept updated on the potential relocation of the event.
International events in China in sports such as athletics, soccer, motor racing, basketball and golf have already had to be postponed, cancelled or relocated because of the coronavirus, which has now claimed more than 1,350 lives, with almost 60,000 infections in total.
It has also spread to other countries, even raising doubts over the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
However, Toshiro Muto, the chief executive of the organising committee, has played down fears that the games may not go ahead.
Speaking at a news conference today, he said: “I want to again state clearly that cancellation or postponement of the Tokyo Games has not been considered."
Muto said last week that he was “seriously concerned” about the potential impact of the coronavirus, adding: “We are extremely worried in the sense that the spread of the infectious virus could pour cold water on momentum for the games.”
The Tokyo 2020 organisers have vowed to work closely with the International Olympic Committee on countermeasures, while Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, has stressed that his government will keep in contact with all relevant groups to ensure the spread will not affect the games.
The Olympics are scheduled for 24 July to 9 August, with the Paralympics to follow from 25 August to 6 September.