The head of Japan Football Association and deputy in chief to Tokyo — Japan Olympic Committee Kozo Tashima said on Tuesday he had contracted the coronavirus, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the Summer Games.
“Today, my test result showed positive for the new coronavirus,” Tashima said in a statement issued via the Japan Football Association. “I have a mild fever. Examinations showed a symptom of pneumonia, but I’m fine. I will concentrate on treatment following doctors’ advice”, he added.
Yesterday, International Olympics Committee (IOC) joined Japanese officials in insisting that the summer Games — due to start in July — will take place as scheduled despite rising coronavirus world wide.
Tashima said he had been on a business trip since February 28, first heading to Belfast to attend the annual general meeting of the International Football Association Board. March 2, he visited Amsterdam for a Uefa meeting to give a presentation on Japan’s bid for the 2023 women’s World Cup. And on March 3, he attended a general meeting of the same body.
“In Amsterdam and in Europe in early March, the level of nervousness against the novel coronavirus was not the same as now,” he said in the statement. “Everyone was still doing hugs, handshakes and bises [cheek kissing].”
He then travelled to the US to watch the Japanese women’s team in action and to lobby for the women’s World Cup, before returning home on March 8. “In the US, too, the sense of crisis … was not as serious as now,” he said.
Staff at the Japan Football Association have been working from home as a precaution, but Tashima said he went to health center on Monday and intimated them about his travel history after he started feeling chills and fever on Sunday.
During the Uefa gatherings, Tashima said he saw Swiss and Serbian football chiefs, who have tested positive for the virus, though he added it was not clear how he contracted the infection. His positive test came out on Tuesday.
“I have chosen to face the illness as so many people are doing in Japan and around the world,” he said, adding that he hoped his decision would help eradicate the stigma attached to the infection.