Coronavirus Disability Intellectual disabilities Japan Sports

Japanese National championship event for athletes with intellectual disabilities canceled due to coronavirus outbreak

A national championship for athletes with intellectual disabilities has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Special Olympics Nippon National Winter Games Hokkaido 2020 were scheduled to kick off this Friday in Hokkaido, northern Japan. But organizers decided to cancel the three-day event on Monday.

From NHK World

February 18th 2020

HOKKAIDO – A national championship for athletes with intellectual disabilities has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Special Olympics Nippon National Winter Games Hokkaido 2020 were scheduled to kick off this Friday in Hokkaido, northern Japan. But organizers decided to cancel the three-day event on Monday.

Organizers said that at a time when coronavirus infections were being reported in various parts in Japan, it is difficult to ensure the safety of participating athletes and others who travel across the country on public transport.

Hokkaido was due to host the championship — which is held every four years — for the first time. About 650 athletes were scheduled to take part.

Organizing officials said the decision to cancel was inevitable, after a second case of infection was reported in Hokkaido.

They said they feared that the athletes’ signature gestures of hugs and high fives with coaches or volunteers could lead to infection spreading further.

Other sporting events impacted by the virus include the Tokyo Marathon, which will take place on a smaller scale on March 1st.

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