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Coronavirus: IOC to hold talks with sports heads today

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will hold talks with heads of international sports organisations today in response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to Reuters.

The virus, which originated in China late last year, has killed more than 6,000 people around the world and infected more than 160,000.

With less than five months to go until the scheduled start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on July 24, questions have been raised as to whether the Games can go ahead.

The IOC, asked about a report by Japanese public broadcaster NHK that talks on the impact of the coronavirus were scheduled for Tuesday, said they were a regular part of dialogue with stakeholders.

“Since this situation started to develop some weeks ago, the IOC is constantly updating its stakeholders on the latest developments,” the IOC said in a statement to Reuters. “The calls are part of this regular information sharing process.”

However, coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the global sporting calendar, leading to some Olympic qualification events being cancelled or postponed.

IOC sports director Kit McConnell discussed changes to qualification processes with various international sporting federations last week.

The IOC had established an Implementation Group to “act quickly, where necessary, on behalf of the IOC EB (Executive Board) to approve the necessary changes to the qualification systems,” McConnell said in a letter to federations. The letter, dated March 9, was seen by Reuters.

Changes could include the extension of qualification periods – but not beyond June 30 – the re-assignment of quota allocations and the removal of certain eligibility criteria.

It is not known whether further changes to the qualification process would be discussed on Tuesday.

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