Tokyo 2020 chief dismisses "irresponsible rumours" of Olympics cancellation

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshirō Mutō has labelled suggestions this year's Olympics and Paralympics could be cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak as "irresponsible rumours" and reiterated his insistence that the Games will go ahead as planned.

Speaking during the latest International Olympic Committee (IOC) project review of Tokyo 2020, Mutō said organisers "would like to make it clear again that we are not considering postponing or cancelling the Games".

Concerns over the impact of the virus, given the official name of COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO), on the Games in the Japanese capital have grown in recent weeks.

But Tokyo 2020 officials have repeatedly stressed the Olympics - due to begin with the Opening Ceremony in 162 days on July 24 - and Paralympics will take place as scheduled.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe promised earlier this month that the country would "respond appropriately" and work closely with the WHO to ensure preparations for Tokyo 2020 are not affected by the virus.

Muto, however, admitted last week that he was "seriously worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games".

More than 1,350 people in neighbouring China have been killed by the virus, which originated in Wuhan, while there are thought to be almost 60,000 infections in total.

Japan today confirmed its first death from the virus, while 247 cases have so far been reported in the country.

The outbreak of the virus has caused concern for Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
The outbreak of the virus has caused concern for Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

The outbreak has forced the postponement of numerous sporting events, including the Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai and the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Nanjing.

Events in several sports, including Olympic qualifiers, have either been cancelled, postponed or moved out of China because of the virus.

It has also prevented Chinese athletes from travelling to events outside of the nation, which could curtail their presence at Tokyo 2020.

Tokyo 2020 Athletes' Village Mayor Saburo Kawabuchi conceded during the project review meeting that organisers "don’t have any clue when this issue will be resolved".

"The biggest concern is the coronavirus and the infection," he said. 

"Based on various pieces of information we receive, it seems that this virus is not as strong as the influenza virus. 

"The virus is susceptible to humidity and heat. 

"In Japan, we have the rainy season which could defeat the virus."

The meeting is being attended by senior IOC member and Coordination Commission chairman John Coates, while IOC medical and scientific director Richard Budgett is also present.

The IOC is expecting regular updates from organisers and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government regarding the virus so they can see the "necessary precautions that are being taken", Coates said.

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Tokyo 2020 Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament field complete

The 12-team field for the Tokyo 2020 Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament was confirmed following the completion of the four FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, with history made for Belgium and Puerto Rico, who are set for their maiden Olympic appearances.

On Sunday, the last six tickets to the Olympics were claimed by Australia, Belgium, Korea, Puerto Rico, Serbia and Spain, with Canada, China, France and Nigeria securing Tokyo 2020 berths on Saturday.

FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 champions USA and the hosts of the Olympic Games, Japan, already had guaranteed spots in the Olympics ahead of the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

The full list of Tokyo 2020 Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament teams:

Puerto Rico

Having won all three games, Canada emerged unbeaten from the Ostend, Belgium tournament with the host nation claiming the only other available qualification ticket alongside the automatically qualified Japan.

France utilized their home court advantage in Bourges, finishing with a 3-0 record and qualifying alongside Australia and Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, the two tournaments in Belgrade, Serbia saw China, Korea, Nigeria, Spain and Serbia lock in their Tokyo 2020 berths, joining the automatically qualified USA.

Emma Meesseman (Belgium), Sandrine Gruda (France), Nneka Ogwumike (USA) and Meng Li (China) received TISSOT MVP awards to headline the All-Star Fives of their respective tournaments following impressive individual displays.

The 2020 Tokyo Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament will take place from July 27 - August 9, 2020.

The draw for the event will take place on March 21, 2020.

The 12 qualified teams will be divided into three groups of four teams each. The Group Phase played in a round robin format, with each team playing the other teams in the group once.

The teams placed first and second in each group and the two best third-placed teams in the Group Phase qualify for the Final Phase.

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Women´s Handball WC Day 2

With the 2019 IHF Women’s WC taking place in Japan handball fan in North and South America probably aren’t going to be able to watch very many matches live. Japan is 14 hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast and most matches take place in the wee hours of the morning. Even fans in Europe might be a little challenged with the 8 hour time difference. Certainly, during the week when folks have to work.

Of course, if you want to know the result of any match, social media and the IHF will quickly tell you who won and how.

But, what if you don’t want to know? What, if you prefer to watch without knowing who’s going to win?

Well, it’s not always easy to remain oblivious, but I’m going to try and help you do so with “Spoiler Free” links to match video. Along, with a few notes as to what’s on the line for that upcoming matches.

Also, if you find yourself geoblocked out of the IHF web stream this article has some tips that should help you find a way to watch: Link

Sunday, 1 December

Group B
Brazil vs France Video Link
Australia vs Germany Video Link
S Korea vs Denmark Video Link (With Commentary from Paul Bray)

Both Brazil and France lost on the first day of competition. France to South Korea and Brazil to Germany, so both sides will want to avoid going 0-0-2. Australia will be huge underdogs to Germany while S Korea and Denmark will both try to move to 2-0-0 in the Group

Group C
Kazakhstan vs Montenegro Video Link
Spain vs Hungary Video Link (With Commentary from Paul Bray)
Senegal vs Romania Video Link

Kazakhstan will be a big underdog vs Montenegro. Spain and Hungary both won their matches, so that is a battle of unbeaten teams. Senegal gave Montenegro a close game while Romania was blown out by Spain. Could be interesting to see whether Romania can bounce back.

France vs Brazil: 2 teams desperate to avoid going 0-0-2 to start the competition
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Japan creates method for effective cancer detection

Tokyo, Nov 25 (Prensa Latina) A clinical method with 99 percent effectiveness in detecting the presence of 13 types of cancer through a blood test was created in Japan, a local scientific spokesperson reported today.

According to the source, this method can diagnose gastric, esophageal, pulmonary, hepatic, biliary tract, pancreas, intestinal, ovarian, prostate, bladder, breast, sarcomas and glioma cancers in less than two hours.

The technology was devised by the Toshiba corporation, the National Cancer Center Research Institute (NCCRI) and the Tokyo Medical University.

The detection tool analyzes micromolecules of ribonucleic acid (or micro-RNA) and that the objective of this diagnostic system is to carry out further research in 2020 to then implement this scientific novelty.

The new breakthrough should allow, once in practice, early treatment for this illness and favor survival rates and patient quality of life.

WBSC and Japan Baseball leaders applaud Premier12 and its growth of international baseball

“Premier12 is extremely important to international baseball, providing the opportunity for teams to compete in a high-level, international event,” said Mr Masatake Yamanaka, President of the Baseball Federation of Japan."

World Baseball and Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari and President of the Baseball Federation of Japan Masatake Yamanaka have lauded the success of the WBSC Premier12 and baseball in Japan overall.

With two days of the WBSC Premier12 Super Round left to play before the medal matches on Sunday, Mr Fraccari and Mr Yamanaka were in agreement about how important the Premier12 is for international baseball and the growth of the sport around the world.

“Premier12 is extremely important to international baseball, providing the opportunity for teams to compete in a high-level, international event,” said Mr Masatake Yamanaka, President of the Baseball Federation of Japan. “As the Sports Director of Samurai Japan, I work on player selection and their preparation, but at the same time, together with NPB, we worked with the Tokyo Dome and ZOZO Marine Stadium to make the event very successful and provide a welcoming experience for each team and their fans who are coming here from all over the world.”

“This second edition of the Premier12 is yet another example of the continuous growth of international baseball,” said WBSC President, Riccardo Fraccari. “For this we must also praise the relationship with all professional leagues around the world; without them an event of this level would not be possible. Next summer, our athletes will be once again representing their countries, this time on the highest sport stage, the Olympic Games. The whole global baseball community is excited about it. Japan has been a wonderful home for international baseball this week and we expect to continue to showcase the best of our sport.”

Baseball was introduced in Japan in 1872 by Horace Wilson, an American Teacher at Ichiban Chugaku (now Tokyo University) who presented the game to its students. Since then, baseball has become one of the most iconic and popular activities in Japan. The NPB is Japan's largest professional sports competition in terms of television ratings and spectators, that’s why baseball is expected to be one of the most important events during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

It is the second time for the WBSC Premier12 to feature in Japan after the 2015 Opening Game and Finals were held here at Sapporo Dome and Tokyo Dome respectively. The top international baseball competition in recent years, the Premier12 is the perfect lead in to what will be the historic return of baseball to the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.

Efren Navarro: “This is historic for Mexico”

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Clark hit a clutch home run in the ninth inning to tie the game, while Navarro hit the game-winning RBI single in the tenth to send Mexico to the Olympics
Mexico defeated today USA, 3-2, in ten innings in a great team effort. However, the game had two heroes: Matt Clark and Efren Navarro.

“Qualify for the first time for the Olympic Games is historic for Mexico,” said Navarro, who hit the game-winning RBI single in the tenth to send Mexico to the Olympics, during the post-game interview.

“It’s a great honour. I respect a lot USA, they have great prospects that will be soon in the Major Leagues, but tonight was our night.”

“We all grow up dreaming on defending your country and playing in the Olympics. And being the first time for Mexico it’s such an honour for us and for the fans.”

Asked about the game-winning hit, Navarro said: “First we must credit the team. Our pitchers, the lineup, Clark, who homered to keep us in the game. Every at-bat is very important, I just tried to fight, to play for the team and thanks god I could do it.”

“We’re going to the Olympics,” said Clark, who tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a solo dinger. “You can’t put it in words, is such a great achievement as a country, as players, as coaches… everybody that’s involved back home, the fans. It’s going to be an amazing experience for everybody to be able to go there and show the world what we have.”

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Japanese institution invites Cuban baseball team to train in its facilities

Jun Ogata, director of Sendai Ikuei Gakuen Incorporated, told the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) that this Japanese school invites them to do training there prior to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Ernesto Reynoso, Cuba´s national baseball director, thanked the gesture at a meeting held at the Havana´s Convention Center, as part of the 8th International Convention on Physical Activity and Sports (AFIDE).

The FCB received videos and photos of the facilities in Sendai Ikuei, about 80 kilometers from Fukushima, one of the venues of Tokyo 2020 baseball tournament. The other is Yokohama, located 250 km from the Japanese capital.

The visitors donated baseballs balls, similar to those used in the WBSC Premier 12 Tournament, running in Japan by these days, and from which Cuba was eliminated in the qualifying stage.

Cuba will opt for the only ticket in dispute in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for the Americas, based in Arizona, United States, in March 2020.

The squads ranking second and third in that contest will have another option in the final Olympic qualifier of Chinese Taipei, which grants a solo berth in April, and will also involve the second place in the Africa-Europe tournament, two teams from the Asian championship and the winner of Oceania.

A total of six sides, including the host, will attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympics baseball tournament. Cuba exhibits in three titles and two silver medals in its five incursions of Olympic baseball.

The Sendai Ikuei school previously made the same invitation to Cuban volleyball.

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Flowers from Great East Japan Earthquake regions to be used in Tokyo 2020 bouquets

Tokyo 2020 has announced that flowers grown in areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake will be used in the bouquets presented to medallists at next year's Olympics and Paralympics.

The move is another example of organisers using the Games to promote hope and regeneration in the region hit by the disaster.

Around 16,000 people died after an earthquake and tsunami caused an accident at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

Organisers said the bouquets will feature "bright and vibrant colours that will appeal to a global audience".

Olympic and Paralympic mascots Miraitowa and Someity will be attached to the bouquets, with the designs proposed by The Nippon Flower Council.

Pictures have been released by Tokyo 2020 but the bouquets used at the Games will feature flowers that are in season at the time, so could appear different.

Five thousand bouquets will be prepared for the Olympic Games alone.

"The design of the bouquets incorporates bright and cheerful colours, I think they are gorgeous bouquets that will help share the athletes' moments of triumph with people around the world," said Tokyo 2020's chief operating officer Yukihiko Nunomura.

"In addition, I believe these bouquets will be a symbol of the progress of the reconstruction of the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and will bring colour to the Tokyo 2020 medal award ceremonies."

The Japanese leg of the Olympic Torch Relay will begin in Fukushima in another example of the Games promoting the region.

Baseball and softball matches will also be held there with some using the term "Reconstruction Olympics".

Nobuo Isomura, chairman of the Nippon Flower Council, said: "Creating these bouquets using flowers raised mostly in the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake will help convey our gratitude to the people of the world for their cooperation and kindness in the aftermath of the earthquake.

"It will also help encourage those in those affected areas.

"We will work with the flower industry to ensure we are ready for the delivery of bouquets at the medal ceremonies every day throughout the Tokyo 2020 Games."

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will run between July 24 and August 9, with the Paralympics following between August 25 and September 6.

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Mexico shuts-out Chinese Taipei, stays undefeated

A solo homer by veteran catcher Alì Solis broke the tie in the bottom of the fifth

Mexico defeated Chinese Taipei, 2-0, to keep the record perfect after game 1 of the WBSC Premier12 super round.

Mexico broke the tie in the bottom of the fifth, when veteran catcher Alì Solis homered off starter Chiang Shao-Ching.

Chiang Shao-Ching didn’t give up a hit in the first four innings. He got two quick outs to start the fifth. Then he went down in the count with Alì Solis. The Mexican catcher looked at two balls and homered on the third pitch.

“I stepped to the box with the plan of being patient and look for one pitch,” said Alì Solis in the post-game press conference. I thought I could get the fastball I was looking for with a two-ball count. He threw it to me and fortunately enough I could put the right swing on it.”

“I think I pitched a good game,” commented Chiang Shao-Ching. “I had a clear game plan. I thought I had to be aggressive in the lower part of the strike zone. I executed that plan pretty well until I gave up the home run. I realize it all comes down to that. That was the game.”

Mexico added a run in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Esteban Quiroz. This sent Chiang to the showers. Chinese Taipei called Chen Kuan-Yu from the bullpen.

A total of five relievers protected starter's Arturo Reyes win.

Jesus Cruz pitched the sixth. Humberto Castellanos left with a runner on in the seventh. Humberto Castellanos gave up a single to pinch hitter Hu Chin-Lung and went to the showers. Left-hander Brennan Bernardino got the key out of the top of the seventh when he struck out Lin-Li, another pinch hitter. Felipe Gonzalez got out of the inning and pitched a perfect eighth inning. Carlos Bustamante added a perfect ninth and earned the save.

“We had our chances,” said Chinese Taipei manager Hong I-Chung “I believe we played a good game overall, but we failed to turn chances into runs. I don’t have in mind many changes for the games against Australia tomorrow. I have in mind a huge change in the mental approach. It’s going to be a sport-fight.”

Mexico’s manager Juan Castro was extremely satisfied: “We knew it was not going to be easy. We came here with a lot of confidence and we earned a great win for Mexico.”

Japan comes from behind, defeats brave Australia

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The Aussie took a lead into the seventh. Their bullpen wasn't as effective as in the key game of the opening round against Canada. Samurai relievers Kaino and Yamasaki were untouchable

Japan defeated Australia, 3-2, and keeps cruising undefeated in the WBSC Premier12. The Aussie didn't let Samurai Japan have an easy debut on home turf. Australia took an early lead and gave it up only on a two-out bunt that scored pinch hitter Ukyo Shuto from third.

Reliever Jon Kennedy gave up three walks, one intentional, in the bottom of the eighth and allowed the go-ahead run.

Hiroshi Kaino and Yasuaki Yamasaki proved untouchable for Australia's lineup in the eighth and the ninth.

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