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Soccer: Japan postpones Cup games due to coronavirus concerns

SAPPORO, Japan (Reuters) – Japan’s J.League says it has postponed seven Levian Cup matches scheduled for Wednesday due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak and is considering postponing all domestic soccer games through the first half of March.

The death toll from the flu-like virus, which originated in China, has exceeded 2,600 while more than 80,000 have been infected. Japan has 850 cases, most from a cruise ship, and has recorded four deaths.

The J.League said the decision to postpone Wednesday’s matches was part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

“The J.League will make maximum efforts to prevent infection and prevent its spread,” it said in a statement.

The spread of the coronavirus has forced the cancelation of many sports events in recent weeks, including Serie A soccer matches in Italy, and raised alarm bells for Tokyo 2020 organizers.

Japanese health minister Katsunobu Kato said on Tuesday it was still too early to talk about cancelling the Olympics, which start on July 24, due to the coronavirus.

Questions have risen about whether the Olympics should be moved or canceled, with one London mayoral candidate saying London was ready to host the games if needed.

The International Olympic Committee has said it had been advised by the World Health Organization that there is no case for contingency plans to cancel or relocate the Games.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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