Coates claims IOC not downplaying coronavirus challenge as he prepares to self-isolate

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From Inside the Games

Senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official John Coates has claimed the organisation is not “underplaying the challenge” posed to Tokyo 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic after meeting with President Thomas Bach in Lausanne.

Coates, the head of the Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020, will self-isolate for two weeks after landing back in Australia from Lausanne, where he discussed the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the Olympic Games with Bach.

The virus, which has killed more than 6,500 people and infected over 170,000 worldwide, has fuelled suggestions this year’s Games could be cancelled or postponed.

In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Coates refused to veer away from the stance of the IOC and Tokyo 2020 that the Games will open as planned on July 24.

He promised flexible rules for athletes after the virus forced the cancellation of numerous qualification events.

“No-one is underplaying the challenge, but the challenges are all matters we should be able to address,” Coates told The Australian.

“I had dinner with Thomas Bach last night, we had meetings, made phone calls from his office on Friday (March 13), there’s confidence in the Japanese and he has given me instructions to make sure we are as flexible as possible with amending qualification rules for federations.

“That will happen.”

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