TOKYO/LONDON – London would be ready to host the 2020 Olympics if the outbreak of the coronavirus forced the Games to be moved from Tokyo, Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for mayor of the British capital, has said.
London hosted the Olympics in 2012, but British officials played down the prospect of taking away the Games from Tokyo, which has been planning the event for seven years since its bid won in 2013.
The flu-like coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,000 people in China and infected over 74,000 globally, has had a major impact on the sporting calendar in Asia with a host of events being cancelled and postponed.
With the Tokyo Games due to begin on July 24, organizers have set up a task force to coordinate with public health authorities over the epidemic.
In Japan, hundreds have been infected by the virus with two deaths confirmed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Yokohama port, sparking concerns that the world’s top sporting event may not take place.
Despite much of the 2012 infrastructure being repurposed to redevelop parts of east London after the Games, Bailey said the city was well placed to step in for Tokyo if needed and urged the Olympic Committee to consider the city as an alternative.
“London can host the #Olympics in 2020,” he said on Twitter.
“Given the ongoing disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, I urge the Olympic Committee to seriously consider how London could stand ready to host the Olympics should the need arise,” Bailey said in a statement.
“We have the infrastructure and the experience, and if I am elected I will make sure London is ready to host the biggest sporting celebration again, if we are called on in an hour of need,” he said.
The London mayoral election is due to take place on May 7, and Bailey is trailing in opinion polls behind the incumbent, Sadiq Khan, from the opposition Labor Party.
In London, there was skepticism at Bailey’s comments: sports officials said they were looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics and that London had no plans to usurp the Games.