Aussie athlete worried about running in Japan

Marathon runner Sinead Diver admits she is nervous and worried about the coronavirus at the Olympics in Tokyo but also as she prepares to fly out for Japan next week to run as a pacer in the Nagoya marathon.

The Ireland-born Australian runner is as worried about being able to get back into Australia after the race as she is about possible exposure to the virus while in Japan.

Her coach Nic Bideau is also due to fly to Japan in coming days with runners in the Tokyo and Nagoya marathons.

Sinead Diver competing in the women’s 5000m during the Sydney Track Classic.Credit:Getty Images

Diver has been recruited to set the pace over the first 30kms for three of Japan’s runners who are aiming to qualify for the Olympics.

On the weekend the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade increased the travel warning to Australians going to Japan that travellers should exercise a “high degree of caution”.

“I am a little hesitant to go but we will wait and see what happens, we still have another week before having to fly out,” Diver said.

“I don’t want to leave the country then have trouble coming back in again.

“Hopefully this is all resolved before the Olympics come around because it does make me a little bit nervous to be honest.

“It’s quite serious. I do not know much about it but from what I have read it is serious.”

The impact of the virus on sports events is being felt throughout the world.

Many Australian athletes had been aiming to achieve Olympic qualification at eligible meets in China and Japan in May, but many believe those meets will not now go ahead.

There are two Diamond League meets in China: on May 16 in Shanghai; and on May 9 at a venue still to be decided. There is also due to be a world challenge meet in Nanjing on May 19.

Some athletes had already pulled out of those meets and tried to get into the Grand Prix meet in Osaka on May 19. But there is also now doubt around the Osaka meet.

If those meets are cancelled athletes will most likely look to Europe to compete where it will be difficult to get a start at those meets given the number of potentially cancelled events and athletes chasing starts.

Athletes, coaches and officials are all still working on the assumption that the Olympics will go ahead.

Officially there is no contingency planning for moving the Olympics in the event that the situation worsens but sources have said they have been told it would be logistically impossible to relocate the games this close to the event.

The World Indoor Athletics Championships which were due to be held in Nanjing in March have been postponed until next year, prompting speculation the Olympics could also be postponed for 12 months if the situation worsens.

The problem for that would be the cascading effect on the sporting calendars for a range of sports such as athletics and swimming that have their world championships each year after an Olympics.

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