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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Japan's bid to save Olympics has an air of desperation

In a single week, Shinzo Abe's coronavirus measures grew more urgent

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holds a rare weekend news conference to explain his request for schools to close on Feb. 29, 2020, in Tokyo. (Photo by Taro Yokozawa)

TOKYO -- When IOC senior member Dick Pound told reporters last Wednesday that the coronavirus epidemic might lead to the Tokyo Olympics being canceled, he likely did not expect his words to trigger the closure of Japan's schools.

"So many people spent six years preparing for this event," Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, responded. Before the outbreak, organizers were busy solving late-arriving problems, such as relocating marathons to Hokkaido to save athletes from Tokyo's punishingly hot summer temperatures.

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