January 22, 2020 / 5:31 AM / in a month

Olympics: Boxing qualifiers set for Wuhan nixed over health fears - media

TOKYO (Reuters) - Qualifying boxing matches for Asia and Oceania for the 2020 Olympic Games that were set to take place in China’s Wuhan next month have been cancelled due to fears over the new flu-like coronavirus, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said on Wednesday.

Boxing preparations for the Games have already been upended after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in June took over the competition and suspended the international boxing federation due to issues with its finances and governance.

The IOC have instead set up a task force, led by its member and International Gymnastics Federation head Morinari Watanabe, to organise the boxing events.

The Kyodo report cited organizers as the source of the news. Reuters was unable to immediately contact Watanabe. The IOC did not immediately return requests for comment.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.

The death toll from the virus in China rose to nine on Wednesday with 440 confirmed cases, Chinese health officials said as authorities stepped up efforts to control the outbreak by discouraging public gatherings in Hubei province.

The Tokyo organising committee has previously said in response to questions on health concerns for the 2020 Olympics that, “countermeasures against infectious diseases constitute an important part of our plans to host a safe and secure Games.”

It added that it would “continue to collaborate with all relevant organisations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases and we will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organisations.”

The global boxing body has been in turmoil over its finances and governance for years with the federation $16 million in debt. It has also been split internally by an ongoing bitter battle over the presidency.

Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski and Kiyoshi Takenaka; editing by Richard Pullin

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