Tokyo 2020 sport climbing test event will be held without athletes due to coronavirus concerns

Amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee announced the unusual measure of holding one of its test events this week as scheduled — but without athletes.

Citing a recommendation from its coronavirus countermeasures task force, the organizing committee said in a media release that Tokyo 2020 staff members will take the place of athletes in its test event for sport climbing on Friday and Saturday, a setup that it said will "test operational preparedness."

Meanwhile, the 2020 Japan Para Wheelchair Rugby Championships — which were set to serve as a test event ahead of the Paralympic Games — have been canceled because of the virus. The event had been scheduled to begin March 12.

Organizers said they will instead "carry out the wheelchair rugby test event in some form in April."

As all host cities do, Tokyo 2020 has been holding test events for this summer's Olympics since September 2018. The events serve as dress rehearsals for specific events, usually featuring athletes from Japan and elsewhere who are expected to compete in the Games. The events give organizers an opportunity to solicit feedback about the mechanics of an event or venue ahead of the actual competition.

A tourist wearing a protective mask takes a photo with the Olympic rings in the background March 3, 2020, at Tokyo's Odaiba district. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) (Photo: Eugene Hoshiko, AP)

While the bulk of test events were held prior to the start of the year, there are still 16 remaining on the calendar in April and May, including test events for swimming and track and field, among other sports. It is unclear whether any will be canceled, postponed or otherwise modified due to COVID-19, which has infected more than 88,000 people across 64 countries as of Monday, according to the World Health Organization.

The International Olympic Committee, for its part, has repeatedly expressed confidence that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will go on as scheduled. The opening ceremony for the Olympic Games is scheduled for July 24.

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

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