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Tokyo 2020 deputy chief tests positive for Covid-19

Japan Olympic Committee deputy chief Kozo Tashima said yesterday he had contracted coronavirus, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the Summer Games.

"Today, my test result showed positive for the new coronavirus," Tashima said in a statement, issued via the Japan Football Association, which he also heads.

"I have a mild fever. Examinations showed a symptom of pneumonia, but I'm fine. I will concentrate on treatment following doctors' advice," he said.

Japanese officials insist that the summer Games - due to start on July 24 - will take place as scheduled, despite rising speculation that it might be postponed or even cancelled due to the virus.

Tashima said he had been on a business trip since Feb 28, first heading to Belfast to attend the annual general meeting of the International Football Association Board.

From March 2, he visited Amsterdam for a Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) meeting to give a presentation on Japan's bid for the 2023 women's World Cup.

On March 3, he attended a general meeting of the same body.

"In Amsterdam and in Europe in early March, the level of nervousness against the novel coronavirus was not the same as now," he said in the statement.

"Everyone was still doing hugs, handshakes and bises (cheek kissing)."

He then travelled to the United States to watch the Japanese women's team in action and to lobby for the women's World Cup, before returning home on March 8.

"In the United States, too, the sense of crisis about the novel coronavirus was not as serious as now," he said.

Staff at the Japan FA have been working from home as a precaution against the virus, but Tashima said he went to the association building several times last week and attended meetings.

He began feeling chills and experienced a mild fever from Sunday. He went to a local public health centre on Monday and told them about his travel history.

During the Uefa gatherings, Tashima said he saw Swiss and Serbian football chiefs, who have tested positive for the virus, although he added it was not clear how he contracted the infection. - AFP


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