The Tokyo Olympics are to be delayed by a year in the first postponement since the modern Games began in the 19th century, becoming the biggest global event to be disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach agreed in a telephone call last night to delay the Games, which were scheduled to begin in July.
“The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will not be canceled,” Abe told reporters in Tokyo after the call, adding that they would be held by the summer of next year.
The coronavirus pandemic has made it all but impossible for aspiring Olympians to train and, in many cases, qualify for a July event.
Abe said that he received 100 percent support from Bach to delay the international sports event.
They agreed to work closely to hold the Games in complete form, symbolizing humanity’s victory over the coronavirus, he said.
Meanwhile, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said in Geneva that there had been a “very large acceleration” in coronavirus infections in the US, which had the potential of becoming the new epicenter.
Over the previous 24 hours, 85 percent of new cases were from Europe and the US, she told reporters, adding that 40 percent were from the US.
Asked whether the US could become the new epicenter, Harris said: “We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the US So it does have that potential. We cannot say that is the case yet but it does have that potential.”
China’s Hubei Province, the original epicenter of the outbreak, is to lift travel curbs on people leaving the area, but other regions are to tighten controls as new cases doubled on Monday from Sunday to 78 due to imported infections.
The provincial capital, Wuhan, which has been in total lockdown since Jan. 23, would see its travel restrictions lifted on April 8.
On the economic side, business activity this month collapsed from Australia and Japan to western Europe at a record pace, with data for the US later yesterday expected to be just as dire.
“The coronavirus outbreak represents a major external shock to the macro outlook, akin to a large-scale natural disaster,” analysts at the Blackrock Investment Institute said.
Confirmed coronavirus cases exceeded 377,000 across 194 countries and territories as of early yesterday, a Reuters tally showed, with more than 16,500 deaths linked to the virus.
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo