Coronavirus: Rugby sevens Tokyo 2020 Olympics test event cancelled

Japanese Rugby Football Union announced on Wednesday that next month's Asia Sevens Invitational cancelled due to Covid-19 outbreak

CARSON, CA - MARCH 01: Danny Barrett #3 of the United States scores a try against Mark Roche #9 of Ireland during 5th Place Play-off of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 1, 2020 in Carson, California.   Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP
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The Japanese Rugby Football Union announced on Wednesday that next month's Asia Sevens Invitational, which doubles as a test event for rugby sevens at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has been cancelled due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

The tournament, due to be held April 25-26, is the latest Tokyo 2020 test event to be cancelled as questions remain over the Japanese capital's ability to host the Games, which start on July 24.

This month's wheelchair rugby test event was also cancelled, whilst the trial run for new Olympic discipline sports climbing, to begin on Friday, will be held without athletes.

Instead, organisers said Tokyo 2020 staff would climb the walls to "test operational readiness".

Test events are dress rehearsals ahead of the actual contests in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"Tokyo 2020 has received notification from Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) that the Asia Sevens Invitational 2020 tournament, scheduled to take place between 25 and 26 April, has been cancelled due to concerns relating to novel coronavirus," read a statement from Games organisers.

"After confirming it is safe to do so, Tokyo 2020 nevertheless will carry out the tests in some form and will consult with the International Olympic Committee, World Rugby and other relevant organisations to determine the content of such tests."

Asia Rugby, the continent's governing body, on Monday postponed all their upcoming tournaments "until further notice" because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Japanese government and Games organisers both reiterated that plans to host the Tokyo Olympics remained on track.

In Switzerland on Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee gave their unequivocal backing to the Games, urging athletes to prepare as they normally would despite the coronavirus threat.

"We are preparing for a successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020," IOC head Thomas Bach said at an executive board meeting to discuss the situation.

"I would like to encourage all the athletes to continue their preparation for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with great confidence and full steam."

Coronavirus cases in Japan have now hit the 1,000 mark, public broadcaster NHK said. Of those, 706 are from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, while 12 have died, the health ministry said.