March 10, 2020 / 3:15 AM / a month ago

Judo qualifiers scrapped through end-April over coronavirus fears

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, walks in front of giant Olympic rings at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - The International Judo Federation has cancelled all Olympic qualification events through to the end of April because of the global coronavirus epidemic, saying it was of utmost importance to keep athletes safe as travel has become increasingly risky.

All qualifiers up to April 30, including the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam in Russia and the Grand Prix events in Tbilisi, Georgia, and in Antalya, Turkey, have been cancelled, the federation said in a statement.

“Unfortunately the situation is now dangerous and critical from many points of view,” the federation said.

“It is of paramount importance to keep the judo family safe in these difficult times, and also to ensure fair chances for all athletes engaged in the Olympic qualification.”

The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted several other qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 and sparked worries the Games could be delayed or cancelled outright. The Summer Olympics are scheduled from July 24 to Aug. 9.

Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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