Coronavirus competes to take gold in Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Courtney Green, News Editor

***This story has been updated to reflect that UNF cancelled all study abroad trips to China on January 31, 2020.***

As the Tokyo 2020 Olympic coordinators announce the competitor pools, there’s just one would-be Olympic-goer that everyone is hoping won’t show up — the novel coronavirus.

The next Summer Olympics will be held in the Japanese capital of Tokyo — only the second time since 1964. The problem: at least 45 people have been confirmed infected with the coronavirus in Japan.

With numbers of those infected and dead steadily climbing — close to 30,000 confirmed cases and 560 deceased — there is some cause for concern. After all, the Olympics draws fans from around the world. According to the Bank of Japan, the Olympic Games are anticipated to draw in nearly a million visitors in a single day.

With the arena for the various competitions already built and the official Twitter and Facebook feed riding a high as they count down the days until the event begins, some are expressing concern about the event and coronavirus.

“Who would be interested, huh! After the coronavirus,” one commenter on the Facebook post celebrating the continuation of Asian countries hosting the Olympics after Beijing was chosen for the Winter Olympics in 2022.

Another commenter on a post revealing the Ariake Arena said they thought there would be serious problems because of the virus. Replying to them, someone assured them that “it will be stopped by summer.”

Some have also noted the similarities between the coronavirus/Olympic debacle and the popular game Plague Inc, in which there is an achievement to spread an outbreak through the Olympics. The surge in players led to Ndemic (the creator of Plague Inc.) going offline for some time. On January 24, they issued an official statement regarding the virus and playership.

In a press release regarding the Games and the coronavirus, the Secretary-General of the Organizing Committee of the Games Toshiro Muto said he would like to work closely with the Japanese government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to ensure infectious disease control. His hope is that the coronavirus will not negatively impact enthusiasm for the Games, and that working with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee will ensure the Olympics does not become a hot-bed for the spread of the virus.

The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China in early December, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is confirmed to spread through human-to-human contact, and the United States has 11 confirmed cases as of February 5. On January 31, President Donald Trump issued a “Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus,” which is being viewed as “unprecedented” by the CDC in terms of travel measures.

UNF coronavirus safety flyer, courtesy of Student Health Services.

UNF is aware of the virus and is taking preemptive measures to protect against it. Though UNF has a very low-risk assessment, students who have flu-like symptoms should go to Student Health Services for a check-up. Future UNF study abroad programs to China were cancelled on January 31.

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