No near-term decision on Tokyo 2020 Olympics, says WHO

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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (FEBRUARY 27, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DR MICHAEL RYAN, SAYING:

"We're working extremely closely with the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and are providing them with assessment and risk management advice. My understanding (is) no decision has or will be taken in the near-term regarding the future of the Olympics. We've said this with regard to all mass gatherings. We need a risk-management approach. There's no zero risk in organising any mass gathering at this moment in time but we need to do for each gathering and there are religious gatherings, there are sports gatherings, there are business gatherings all over the world all of the time. We need to have a clearly risk-management approach for those events and we're providing advice on that. We have an internal task force; we have a lot of experience in supporting mass gatherings before in the midst of Olympics like during the Zika outbreak, during the previous SARS outbreak and the Special Olympics and many others. And if you cast your mind back to those events many of those events went ahead with appropriate risk management. So we intend to work through the IOC task force which they've established with the Tokyo 2020 (Organising) Committee. So no decision on that from our perspective and we will be offering advice through time."

STORY: No decision will be made on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the near future in light of the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (February 27).

WHO officials said the new coronavirus outbreak has reached a "decisive point" and had the potential to become a pandemic.

With less than five months to go until the Olympics begin, WHO emergencies program head Dr Mike Ryan said they were working closely with organisers of the Tokyo Olympic Games, providing them with assessment and risk management advice.

On Wednesday Tokyo 2020 officials said they are considering scaling down the torch relay due to concerns over the outbreak

The committee's basic stance was that the Olympics and Paralympics would go ahead as planned, Tokyo 2020 CEO, Toshiro Muto told reporters.

Japan has moved to quell fears that the Olympics might be cancelled after International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said the Games would more likely be cancelled than postponed or moved if the virus forced any change in the schedule.

(Production: Tim Hart and Elliot Richardson)

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