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Team Singapore 'monitoring situation closely' as it gears up for Tokyo Olympics amid COVID-19 outbreak

Team Singapore 'monitoring situation closely' as it gears up for Tokyo Olympics amid COVID-19 outbreak

Team Singapore parade at the SEA Games 2019 closing ceremony. (Photo: SportSG)

SINGAPORE: As Team Singapore's athletes prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, officials are monitoring the global COVID-19 situation closely with the outbreak sparking concerns over the fate of the event set to begin in under five months.

The global outbreak has hit Japan hard, resulting in wide-ranging measures to contain the spread. 

This has ranged from the closures of primary, junior high and high schools, a scaled back Tokyo marathon as well as cancellations to major cherry blossom festivals.

READ: Japan's Abe prepares steps to soften blow of school closures as COVID-19 spreads

But organisers said that the Olympics and Paralympics are not in danger of being scrapped.

Responding on Friday (Feb 28) to queries from CNA, a Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) spokesperson said Team Singapore will follow the lead of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Games organising committee.

The Olympics have only been cancelled thrice, in 1916, 1940 and 1944, due to world wars. The lead-up to the 2016 Olympics was also overshadowed by fears of the Zika virus spread, but the event proceeded as planned.

READ: Tokyo Olympics on, organisers say, as coronavirus hits Japan events

“We are monitoring the situation closely. The National Sports Associations (NSAs) are making adjustments to the athletes’ training and competition programmes where necessary," said a spokesperson from SNOC.

"The IOC and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organising committee have a sound assessment on the public health situation's impact on the Olympic Games. We will take their lead, while also being guided by the Government's health and travel advisories. We trust that they will make the right decision in the best interests of the National Olympic Committees and the athletes.”

'ALL SYSTEMS GO'

Currently, it remains "all systems go" for Singapore's athletes, added Singapore Sports Institute’s (SSI) head of high performance and athlete life Richard Gordon. 

"As far as Olympics are concerned for Team Singapore and supporting crew, it is all systems go at this point in time. It is business as usual for our athletes, who are keeping up with their training schedules in the lead up to the Games," said Mr Gordon. 

"Despite the evolving situation, we are taking this in a positive light and encourage athletes to keep at it, preserve their momentum and put in the work."

Several of Singapore's athletes have already booked their place at the Olympics, this includes swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, diver Jonathan Chan as well as gymnast Tan Sze En.

READ: Jonathan Chan becomes first diver in Singapore history to qualify for Olympics

Sport Singapore has also advised NSA to take the necessary precautions to "protect athletes and officials at all times", said Mr Gordon. 

"If they have to travel overseas for competitions or training, NSAs were asked to take guidance from MOH advisory and defer travel if required," he said. "We will take the lead from IOC and International Federations in managing the situation and are prepared to take changes in our stride. Our athletes’ safety and health remains our top priority."

The Olympics are scheduled to open on Jul 24, with the Paralympics beginning from Aug 25.

Source: CNA/mt(mn)

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