FINA Leaders Ponder A Three-Month Coronavirus Moratorium That Would Wipe Out All Olympic Test Events

coronavirusglobalspread

FINA‘s leadership is debating a proposal to impose a three-month moratorium on all major events under its jurisdiction, including all Olympic test events in open water, synchro, diving  and water polo, for men and women as well as the bulk of the 2020 Diving World Series, the Synchro World Series and the Water Polo World League.

Any decision is likely to include the organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at a time when Japan is taking stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus. Today, a Japanese government panel of experts on communicable diseases gave warning that the battle to contain the new coronavirus could take months or even last beyond the end of the year, throwing deepening doubt on whether the Olympic Games can go ahead as planned or at all.

On a day when the Italian Swimming Federation (FIN) announced the cancellation of its Olympic swimming trials and championships in all aquatics disciplines in March and April, as part of the tightest Government containment measures since the Second World War, FINA leaders are said to be debating whether to draw a line and effectively shut down all Olympic test events in aquatic sports.

Our main image shows a BBC graphic of the outbreak statistics globally that is updated regularly and charts World Health Organisation (WHO) figures. WHO said today that the threat of a pandemic was “very real” given the rapid spread of the virus.

Sources close to the helm of the international federation have told Swimming World that a proposal to impose a moratorium by a member of the FINA executive met with opposition. There was also concern that such a decision would need to be agreed with the Tokyo 2020 hosts and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

While there was basic agreement that it may soon be necessary to place the FINA calendar on hold, the complexities and impacts of doing so, on athletes, plans and finances needed they matter to be given more thought,  the source suggested.

The events that would be affected (Olympic qualifiers in bold)

  • 20-22 March: FINA/CNSG Diving World Series 2020 #2, Kazan, RUS
  • 22-29 March: Men’s Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament 2020
    Rotterdam, NED
  • 24 March – WPWL – Women European Prelim 2020 – Game Day 5
  • 27-29 March: FINA/CNSG Diving World Series 2020 #3, London, GBR
  • 27-29 March: FINA Artistic Swimming World Series 2020 #2, Hurghada, EGY
  • 03-05 April – FINA Artistic Swimming World Series 2020 #3, Alexandroupolis, GRE
  • 09-11 April – FINA Artistic Swimming World Series 2020 #4 Budapest, HUN
  • 14 April – WPWL – Men European Prelim 2020 – Game Day 5 tbd
  • 17-19 April – FINA Artistic Swimming World Series 2020 #5 Kazan, RUS
  • 21 April – WPWL – Women European Prelim 2020 – Game Day 6 (and Olympic qualifier)
  • 21-26 April – FINA Diving World Cup 2020, Tokyo, JPN (and Olympic qualifier)
  • 28 April – WPWL – Men European Prelim 2020 – Game Day 6
  • 28 April – May 3 – FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Intercontinental Cup 2020, Indianapolis, USA
  • 28 April – WPWL – Women European Prelim 2020 – Game Day 7
  • 28 April – May 3 – FINA Women’s Water Polo World League Intercontinental Cup 2020, Indianapolis, USA
  • 30 April – May 3 – FINA Artistic Swimming Olympic Games Qualification Tournament 2020, Tokyo, JPN
  • May 3 – FINA /CNSG Marathon Swim World Series 2020 #2, Victoria, SEY
  • 14-17 May – FINA Diving Grand Prix 2020 #3, Windsor, CAN
  • 17-24 May – Women’s Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament 2020 Italy
  • 29-31 May – FINA Diving Grand Prix 2020 #4, Singapore, SGP
  • 29-31 May – FINA Artistic Swimming World Series 2020 #6, Madrid, ESP
  • 30-31 May: FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier 2020, Fukuoka, JPN

Communicable Disease Experts Hint At Months-Long Battle Ahead On Coronavirus

tokyo2020-logoThe battle to contain the new coronavirus could take months or even last beyond year-end, a Japanese government panel of experts on communicable diseases warned Monday.

“It may take several months to half a year, or even last beyond year-end” as the virus may survive warmer weather, unlike influenza, Kazuhiro Tateda, a member of the panel and president of the Japanese Association of Infectious Diseases, told a press conference after their meeting.

The panel denied that the COVID-19-causing virus was ‘exploding’ in Japan but also noted that it was still too early to relax vigilance.

A decision whether to proceed with the Olympic Games as planned, postpone or cancel is expected to be made in May.

Meanwhile, Japan today implemented tougher border control measures on travellers from China and South Korea, effectively banning tourists from the two countries until the end of March.

Nearly 3 million visas already issued to Chinese and South Korean nationals, also including residents of Hong Kong and Macau, were invalidated for those yet to travel. All arrivals among those already travelling from the two countries, including Japanese and other foreign nationals, will be asked to undergo a 14-day quarantine, albeit on a voluntary basis.

China accepted Japan’s new restrictions as “appropriate to safeguard public health” and in the same spirit temporarily suspended its 15-day visa waiver program for Japanese tourists from tomorrow.

Under Japan’s voluntary scheme, Japanese citizens and visitors from China and South Korea will be asked to confine themselves to designated facilities, such as hotels, at their own expense – or, if they live in Japan, in their homes – for a 14-day quarantine period. They will also be asked to use private transport to get to their quarantine destination, and not use public transport.

 

17 comments

  1. Alex Brothers

    I’m a doctor and an Emergency Doctor. I’ve been at this for more than 20 years seeing sick patients on a daily basis. I have worked in inner city hospitals and in the poorest slums. HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria…there is little I haven’t been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared.

    I am not scared of Covid-19. I am concerned about the implications of a novel infectious agent that has spread the world over and continues to find new footholds in different soil. I am rightly concerned for the welfare of those who are elderly, in frail health or disenfranchised who stand to suffer mostly, and disproportionately, at the hands of this new scourge. But I am not scared of Covid-19.

    What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world. I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for front line healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others. I am scared that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with anyone who thinks they ” probably don’t have it but may as well get checked out no matter what because you just never know…” and those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled ER waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess.

    I am scared that travel restrictions will become so far reaching that weddings will be canceled, graduations missed and family reunions will not materialize. And well, even that big party called the Olympic Games…that could be kyboshed too. Can you even
    imagine?

    I’m scared those same epidemic fears will limit trade, harm partnerships in multiple sectors, business and otherwise and ultimately culminate in a global recession.

    But mostly, I’m scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, openmindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.

    Covid-19 is nowhere near over. It will be coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some point. Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further. The fact is the virus itself will not likely do much harm when it arrives. But our own behaviors and “fight for yourself above all else” attitude could prove disastrous.

    I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.

    Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.
    Our children will thank us for it.

    #washurhands #geturflushot #respect #patiencenotpanic

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Thank you Alex.

    • avatar
      Paul

      Well said Alex, I think your message needs to be spread the way the Media and Social Media is spreading the panic.

    • avatar
      Pradeep

      Superb

    • avatar
      Ellie

      That’s a great message Alex (although it isn’t yours, it’s attributed to Dr Abdul Sharkawy and has been doing the rounds on social media).

  2. avatar
    Russell McKinnon

    I like Alex’s response. Didn’t 60,000 people die of the flu in USA last year?

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      something like that but comparisons with ‘flu simply don’t work unless you take the thought further to this (which right now cannot be applied to corona) from the US statistics that include a great many deaths among people who simply didn’t bother or could not afford (?) to get the jab that might have saved their lives, extending to children: “But by the end of that season, flu killed 187 children, the most since federal health authorities began tracking pediatric deaths 16 years ago. About 80 percent of those children were unvaccinated.” Panic is not taking containment precautions; panic is buying 200 toilet rolls when you’ll never need them, especially if you die.

  3. avatar
    Charlie Gaites

    I completely agree that mass panic is never smart and news media has blown a lot of this way out of proportion. However, other emergency health professionals would argue that swimmers, especially those who train in indoor pools, are a susceptible population to respiratory viruses. A large majority of swimmers are asthmatic or have respiratory conditions, some of which stem from breathing in chemicals formed when chlorine interacts with water. While the flu does kill thousands of people, most of these deaths are what would be called “at risk” populations – children, elderly, and those wtih respiratory illnesses. Are we doing our young swimmers, or even our professional ones, an injustice by placing them in close quarters with others who have the virus? How many children do we watch at swim practice reach for rescue inhalors due to asthma or sports induced asthma?

    Yes, it’s been argued that chlorine in pools will kill flu and CoVID-19. But what about locker rooms? And parents or spectators sitting in stands at swim meets? Or children sitting next to each other on bleachers? This is how pandemics start. Put a lot of people in close quarters and then send them on their way to their individual communities. It seems like FINA may be onto something. But, careful consideration and consultation with the WHO should be done before canceling such important events.

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      All good points, Charles. Also worth noting for any brining ‘flu into the discussion that between 60-80% of those who die from ‘flu each winter, in various research stats (including U.S. statistics finding 80% of child victims in one survey) were not vaccinated with any form of ‘flu jab. Not always clear in the statistics is why their were not inoculated (lack of knowledge/education/care/help/money/insurance etc). There is no jab for coronavirus as things stand and the virus has a capacity to be spread quite rapidly in certain circumstances, including large gatherings of people in places, as you describe, with obvious risks. Good to see FINA leaders not doing what they usually do: a handful of men say ‘aye’ without any discernible consultation with experts and stakeholders. On this, they have formed a task force of sound minds. The next trick is to listen to them and allow them to express their genuine, expert opinions without fear or favour – and then, for leaders to take the recommendations and accept the accountability that comes with their privileged positions and roles. I know that contact with the WHO is a part of the picture.