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Tokyo Olympics plans, flame ceremony moving forward in face of coronavirus fears

With global fear and uncertainty around the coronavirus expanding, officials are moving forward with the Tokyo Olympics as planned.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams told reporters at a news conference at IOC headquarters Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday that advisers have green-lit the games.

“All the advice we're getting is that the games can and will go ahead,” Adams said from a meeting of the IOC’s executive board.

Asked to clarify if uncertainty remains, Adams said no.

‘We’ve made a decision’

“No, we've made a decision,” he said. “And the decision is that the games go ahead.”

“I would like to encourage all the athletes to continue their preparation for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with great confidence and with full steam,” he said.

Organizers are moving forward with the Tokyo Olympics as coronavirus concerns persist. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Flame ceremony to go on as scheduled

Meanwhile, organizers in Greece are moving forward with the flame-lighting ceremony that takes place each Olympic year.

For every Olympic games, the torch is lit among Pagan ruins in Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient Olympic games in Southern Greece. It is then carried around Greece in a week-long relay before being handed off to host organizers.

The Greek Olympic committee announced on Tuesday that the March 12 ceremony will go on as planned with the intention of passing the torch to Tokyo organizers on March 19.

The Olympic torch is lit every Olympic year at a flame ceremony in Greece, seen here prior to the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Precautions are being taken as Greece has seven confirmed coronavirus cases. Spectators are prohibited from the March 11 rehearsal, and public events like dinners and receptions are being canceled.

Tokyo official floats postponement

Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto didn’t share the IOC’s certainty about the games going on as scheduled while suggesting that organizers could move back the date if compelled.

“The IOC has the right to cancel the games only if they are not held during 2020,” Hashimoto told the nation’s parliament. “This can be interpreted to mean the games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year.”

Adams, who spoke to reporters after Hashimoto’s statement, shot the postponement idea down.

“We are going to have the games on the 24th of July,” Adams said.

IOC President Thomas Bach provided a vote of confidence for athletes.

“I would like to encourage all the athletes to continue their preparation for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with great confidence and with full steam,” Bach said.

As of Tuesday, the coronavirus had spread to 70 countries with 90,000 confirmed cases and 3,100 deaths, according to the Associated Press.

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