(Reuters) - The European, American and final world qualifying boxing tournaments for the Tokyo Olympic Games were suspended on Monday due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the International Olympic Committee said.
The IOC said the European qualifier in London, which was already under way and due to run to March 24, would end after Tuesday’s evening session. It said it would provide details on the qualification process for the other regions at a later date.
The IOC’s boxing task force (BTF), which is organising the event in the Copper Box at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, had opted earlier on Monday to hold it without spectators but then decided to end it early.
“The BTF eventually took the decision to suspend the event today, amid increasing global travel restrictions and quarantine measures, in order to allow the participants from over 60 countries to adjust their travel plans and return home,” the IOC said in a statement.
“The BTF will continue to evaluate the situation daily, aiming to complete the distribution of the remaining Tokyo 2020 boxing quota places in May and June.”
“The BTF’s priority remains the qualification of athletes on the field of play, and it will inform all stakeholders as soon as more information is available,” it said.
The suspension of the event is the latest blow dealt to the Tokyo Games by the virus’s quick spread around the globe.
The IOC will hold talks with heads of international sports organisations on Tuesday in response to the coronavirus outbreak and will also hold an unscheduled Executive Board teleconference to discuss the latest developments.
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.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Kevin Liffey