London, United Kingdom, Mar 16 – European Olympic boxing qualifiers in London were suspended on Monday over coronavirus fears despite an earlier decision to hold the event behind closed doors.
The Boxing Road to Tokyo event, which started on Saturday and was scheduled to run until March 24, will be stopped after the evening session.
Subsequent Americas and final world qualifiers, scheduled to take place in May, have also been put on ice.
The London competition featured around 350 male and female boxers from dozens of nations and was the first opportunity for boxers from Europe to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
The IOC (International Olympic Committee) Boxing Task Force said on Sunday that the rest of the event, from Monday, would take place behind closed doors.
But now it has been suspended.
“The BTF eventually took the decision to suspend the event today (Monday), 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,” said a statement from the IOC.
Shortly before Sunday’s decision to move the event behind closed doors, the head of European boxing told the BBC he was “very concerned” that it was taking place.
European Boxing Confederation (EUBC) president Franco Falcinelli said he feared the risk of a boxer getting the virus was “very high”.
Organisers of the boxing qualifiers said before the event started that measures had been put in place to protect competitors.
“All of the teams have been told to adopt regular handwashing,” they said in a statement.
“If any of their group begins to exhibit cold or flu symptoms they are advised to self-isolate, stay indoors, avoid contact with other people and contact the LOC’s (local organising committee’s) chief medical officer.”
Additional measures included routine temperature testing as part of daily medicals.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday said the country would host the Tokyo Olympics, due to start on July 24, as planned but there is growing opposition towards holding the Games as scheduled.