March 19, 2020 / 1:25 AM / 9 days ago

Tokyo Olympics chief attended meeting with official who now has coronavirus

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori attended a meeting on March 10 that included the deputy head of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) who tested positive for the new coronavirus this week, officials said.

FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori speaks to the media in Tokyo, Japan, March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mori, who is 82 and has lung cancer, has not been tested because he has no symptoms of the virus and does not meet testing requirements, an official from Mori’s office said.

Mori and JOC deputy head Kozo Tashima attended a board meeting regarding the Rugby World Cup. Tashima tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

At the meeting, about 60 people were in a room and Mori was seated about 10 meters away from Tashima on the opposite side of the table, according to Jun Kusumoto, a spokesman for the Rugby World Cup organizing committee.

Local health authorities have contacted those believed to be at risk of contracting the virus from Tashima but that does not include Mori, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee told Reuters.

“He goes to hospital three times a week for dialysis, so if he develops fever or has other symptoms, a doctor will be able to test for it,” the official from Mori’s office said.

Doubts are mounting that the Olympics can proceed as planned given disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic but Tokyo Games and Japanese government officials have said the event will go ahead as scheduled and will not be held behind closed doors.

Hiroshi Iijima, deputy governor of Saitama prefecture, who also attended the meeting decided to self-quarantine and will not return to work until March 23, Ryoji Hiraiwa, a prefectural official said.

Iijima does not have any coronavirus-related symptoms and tested negative after taking a test on Wednesday, he added.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Mori on March 16, without providing details.

He did not directly address a question about whether Abe will test for the virus.

“Health centers are taking the necessary measures once people test positive for the coronavirus, including identifying who has been in contact with them,” Suga said.

Reporting by Ami Miyazaki and Ju-min Park; Additional reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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