Coronavirus update: Tokyo torch relay postponed, KBO postponed again, and more

A man wearing a face mask stands in front of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame being displayed outside Miyako railway station, Iwate prefecture on March 22, 2020, after arriving from Greece (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP via Getty Images)

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay has been postponed, in the wake of the postponement of the Games themselves.

The relay was to begin on Thursday, March 26 in Fukushima Prefecture, and to visit every prefecture in Japan. It had already been significantly scaled back due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tokyo 2020 organising committee chief Yoshiro Mori said: “For the time being, the flame will be stored and displayed in Fukushima.”

The flame had arrived in Japan from Greece on March 12. Large crowds gathered to see it at the ceremonies and displays that have taken place since, despite organisers encouraging people not to gather. More than 1,000 people gathered to see it at an event yesterday that saw the lighting of a special cauldron in Fukushima using the flame.

KBO League moved again

The South Korean baseball league, the KBO league, pushed its season start date back for a second time, to April 20 at the earliest, with televised pre-season games starting April 7.

The league had already been postponed from March 1 until this Saturday. The Korean government’s current social distancing measures run until April 6, with schools set to reopen that day.

The compressed season presents a logistical challenge for the league – the first postponement was already going to lead to double-header games and games on the usual off day of Monday. The postponement of Tokyo 2020 may, however, free up some time for the league – it was due to be suspended during the Olympics to allow national team players to take part.

Yonhap News Agency reported that KBO secretary general Ryu Dae-hwan said: “If we don’t feel that the situation with the virus has settled, we won’t be able to go ahead with the pre-season games. If teams do end up playing these games, we’ll schedule them in a way that teams won’t have to travel far and stay overnight in an away city. Teams located close to each other will be matched up.”

Other news

The men’s Korean Basketball League has cancelled the rest of its season. The league had already been suspended after the round of games on February 29 after one team, KCC Egis, was discovered to have stayed in the same hotel as a coronavirus patient. The league had been planning to resume play this Sunday. The Korean women’s basketball league, the WKBL, cancelled its season last Friday, and on Saturday the country’s prime minister Chung Sye-kyun urged the suspension of indoor sports as part of a nationwide social distancing drive.

Hockey Australia cancelled all its national championships this year, including the Australian Masters Hockey Championships, which were scheduled for June and July. The organisation said it would continue to run local competitions this year.

The vice president of the Vietnam Football Federation, Tran Quoc Tuan, has proposed playing the remainder of the currently suspended V.League 1 season in a single venue, to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19.