But authorities say health of athletes is top priority as pandemic continues
Even with uncertainty looming large over the Tokyo Olympics, the Chinese Olympic Committee says it remains committed to pushing ahead with its preparations for the Games.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, China's central sports governing body and its affiliated administrative centers have since mid-January taken all necessary prevention measures while encouraging athletes to keep training at home and abroad to guarantee that preparations for the Tokyo Olympics proceed as normal, the COC said in a statement released on Wednesday.
As the pandemic shows little sign of slowing any time soon, the COC reiterated that the health of all personnel involved in the Olympic campaign is the top priority.
With some planned training programs, domestic and international warm-up events and preparatory meetings all disrupted by the outbreak, alternatives such as closed-door training, internal test competitions, makeshift overseas camps and video conference calls are being used to keep athletes in shape and Games preparations on track, added the COC.
"We are pushing forward with an attitude of being responsible for the health of every athlete involved and respecting any rule adjustments by international sports federations for the sake of disease prevention," said the statement, published on the COC's website.
On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee maintained its stance that the Games will go ahead as planned despite growing concern over the impact of the pandemic.
"The health and well-being of all those involved in the preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is our number one concern. All measures are being taken to safeguard the safety and interests of athletes, coaches and support teams. We are an Olympic community; we support one another in good times and in difficult times. This Olympic solidarity defines us as a community," said IOC president Thomas Bach.
At the time of writing, no athletes or team officials within the COC's Olympic program had tested positive for COVID-19.
However, the postponement or cancellation of some Olympic qualifiers have taken a toll on certain sports that have not yet met their entry quotas, leaving athletes and teams wondering when and how they might be able to clinch the remaining tickets for Tokyo.
"The postponements of the Olympic qualifying events have indeed disrupted some of our teams' arrangements, with athletes having no idea of how remaining qualification events will proceed," said the COC.
According to COC figures, China has qualified for 161 out of the total 339 events across 33 sports. Athletes in 14 events－including women's basketball, boxing and track cycling－qualified during the outbreak.
The COC had targeted qualification in about 210 events for the Tokyo Games.
"Although the viability of further Olympic qualifiers remains up in the air, the Chinese delegation has basically reached the goal on the number of qualification spots at the moment," said the COC statement.
"The overall impact of the epidemic on the delegation's Tokyo prospects is believed to be limited."
The IOC stressed on Tuesday that it believes there is "no need for any drastic decisions" regarding the viability of the Games, which remain scheduled to open on July 24.
The IOC also acknowledged that it has been working with international sports federations on adjustments to Olympic qualifying processes, which it said will be finalized by the start of April.
Though the requirements vary from sport to sport, the IOC also issued guidelines to follow in the event that the remaining qualifiers cannot be staged, indicating that the tickets will go to athletes who have performed the best prior to suspended events.
Any alterations to Olympic qualification processes must be based on rankings from international federations or historical results, it said, and the changes must "reflect, where possible, the existing principles of the respective qualification systems".
With inbound quarantine measures in place to contain the risk of infection from new arrivals, some of China's traditionally strong Olympic squads, such as table tennis, badminton and boxing, have been allowed to continue training in safe overseas locations following the suspensions of their respective world tour events or Tokyo qualifiers.