Olympic authorities have indicated that the Summer Games in Japan could be cancelled if the spread of coronavirus becomes too dangerous.
The chief executive of the organising committee, Toshiro Muto, has already said the torch relay would be scaled back to limit the spread of the virus and training for Olympic volunteers has been postponed, ABC News reported.
More than 80,000 people have now been infected with coronavirus globally, resulting in 2,700 deaths predominantly in China.
However, Japan has reported 172 cases and six deaths, excluding the 705 cases detected onboard the Diamond Princess.
Canadian IOC official, Dick Pound, told ABC News that if the games cannot go ahead as scheduled, it is more likely they will be cancelled than postponed.
Japan’s Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto has dismissed Pound’s comments and said during a parliamentary session that preparations would go ahead regardless.
“All we can do is to prepare to host the Games with peace of mind and to be recognised by the IOC,” she said, according to Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, the number of new cases of the virus being reported outside of China has exceeded those reported by Beijing for the first time.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said 459 new cases had been reported by 37 countries over the past 24 hours, and only 412 had been reported by China, according to ABC News.
“The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
This comes as the Australian government has raised its travel advice for South Korea and Japan as the fear of a global pandemic spreads.
Both countries have an overall warning of “exercise a high degree of caution”, citing advice from Australia’s chief medical officer.