(Updates with details, quotes by Tashima)
TOKYO, March 17 (Reuters) - The deputy head of Japan’s Olympic committee, Kozo Tashima, tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, even as top government officials have reiterated that the Games would go ahead as scheduled and will not be held behind closed doors.
The Japan Football Association (JFA), where Tashima, 62, doubles as the chairman, said he had travelled to Britain, the Netherlands and the United States from late February to early March, and was confirmed as positive for the virus on Tuesday afternoon.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday that Group of Seven leaders had agreed to support a “complete” Olympics, but dodged questions about whether any of the leaders had brought up the possibility of postponement.
There is growing concern about whether the Olympics can proceed as planned now that the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic has brought business and social activity in countries across the world to a standstill and panic to financial markets.
“I had a small fever and after I’ve got checked it also looks like I have symptoms of pneumonia, but I’m doing fine,” Tashima said through the JFA. He said he would continue treatment at a local health facility.
Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto said the Games would be held on time and with spectators present, but the organizers said the torch relay kick off, slated for Fukushima on March 26, will be held without spectators.
Many other events along the torch relay route have been curtailed or cancelled and spectators have been asked to stay away and not form crowds.
The JFA said it would disinfect its headquarters and investigate where those present at its board meetings have travelled. It said it would also examine the health of the officials from other sports organizations based in its building. (Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; editing by John Stonestreet and Hugh Lawson)