Tokyo Olympics: Coronavirus outbreak could impact Chinese athletes trying to qualify for 2020 games
Officials continue to insist the virus won't impact the games come July
The coronavirus is still a major threat to the world, with over 75,000 cases reported in 27 countries. Over 2,000 people have died amid the outbreak, according to CBS News. Now, it is starting to create issues for Chinese athletes trying to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Some teams with athletes from China are still waiting to hear whether they will be able to compete in qualifying tournaments, while others are not being sent to qualifiers, like World Cup events, ahead of the games. With the Summer Olympics just five months away, it is crunch time when it comes to athletes securing their spots, and the coronavirus is a massive roadblock right now.
The International Olympic Committee told USA TODAY Sports:
"The IOC is working closely with the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) and the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020 to track each qualifier event in which Chinese athletes (or other athletes who have recently been in China) are participating.
They also said it is a case by case situation that "varies between sports and events."
"Where there are impacts on the participation of athletes, the IOC will work with the relevant (sports federations) to make sure those affected have a fair opportunity to qualify," the IOC added.
The women's handball team's last chance to qualify is in the Olympic Qualification Tournament in March and China has already withdrawn from the event.
This week, China's gymnasts are not participating in the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup, which is taking place in Melbourne, Australia. The athletes will miss out on the first apparatus event of the World Cup Series.
The first event in the all-around portion of the series is the American Cup in Milwaukee on March 7. It includes four events, so missing one could be detrimental to the score and could result in not having enough points to qualify, which would impact additional athletes from China who are trying to make the cut. There is a ban on traveling into the United States for non-citizens who have previously been to China, athletes from the country could miss the event.
The men's water polo team is playing the waiting game, hoping for a decision that lets them participate in the qualifying tournament.
Just how much the coronavirus will impact the games remains to be, but there is no timeline of just how long the virus will be a threat.
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