Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Olympics concern - JAAA president worried after MOH considers to add Japan to list of restricted countries

Published:Friday | February 28, 2020 | 12:24 AMAkino Ming/Staff Reporter
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (foreground) carries his country’s flag during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games at the Olympic Stadium in London, Friday, July 27, 2012.
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (foreground) carries his country’s flag during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games at the Olympic Stadium in London, Friday, July 27, 2012.

After the Ministry of Health (MOH) stated that it is considering to add Japan, the host country of this summer’s Olympic Games, to the list of countries now under travel restrictions by Jamaica because of the outbreak of the coronavirus, Warren Blake, the president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, told The Gleaner that he is now concerned the virus may pose a serious threat to the XXXII Olympiad.

The Ministry yesterday named Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Iran as the latest countries which Jamaica will not be accepting visitors from, in an attempt to prevent the virulent virus from reaching the country’s borders.

MOH RELEASE

The release from the MOH noted that: “We are reviewing the situation in Japan, where there are 164 cases and 1 death; and will advise whether that country is to be included in the list of restricted countries.”

Blake, who is responsible for the sport that will be sending the largest contingent of Jamaican athletes to the Games, admitted that the Olympic Games could influence the further spread of the virus around the world.

“I am concerned but I am watching the output from the World Health Organization. The main concern is the health of the athletes and the health of Jamaica,” Blake said.

“It could turn out that the outbreak is contained and the virus is controlled when the flu season finishes. When the place warms up and the number of cases might drop because it is a flu type virus. But it is also a possibility that the number of cases could continue to rise exponentially, in which case people will have to be really concerned because there will be thousands of people from around the world that will be in one location (at the Olympic Games).”

Minister of health, Christopher Tufton, said although he is concerned about Jamaican athletes travelling to the east Asian country, he won’t be making an isolated decision as to whether they should attend the Games or not.

“It is a concern to us from a public health stand point, but at the same time I suspect that it would be a concern to other countries and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Any decision that we take would be in collaboration with the IOC. We wouldn’t take any decision in isolation,” Tufton said.

Dick Pound, the longest serving member of the IOC, outlined that the spread of the virus could threaten the staging of the July 24- August 9 Games, noting that a decision would have to be made by the end of May. Organisers have since come out and dismissed the notion that the Games will be cancelled.

Meanwhile, it is reported that a high ranking member of the IOC said outright cancellation of the Games, rather than postponement or relocation, would be likely if the disease proved too dangerous for the event.