London will be ready to host the 2020 Olympics if the outbreak of the coronavirus forced the Games to be moved from Tokyo in Japan, a political figure said on Thursday.
Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for the position of mayor of the British capital, said this on social media.
London had last hosted the Games in 2012.
The flu-like coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,000 people in China and infected over 74,000 globally, has had a major impact on the sports calendar in Asia.
Already, a host of events have been canceled and postponed.
With the Tokyo Games due to begin on July 24, organizers have set up a task force to coordinate with public health authorities over the epidemic.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it had been advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that there is no case for contingency plans to cancel or relocate the Games.
In Japan, hundreds have been infected by the virus with two deaths confirmed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Yokohama port.
This has sparked concerns that the world’s top sports event may not take place.
Bailey said London was well placed to step in for Tokyo if needed and urged the Olympic Committee to consider the city as an alternative.
“London can host the #Olympics in 2020,” he said on Twitter.
“Given the ongoing disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, I urge the Olympic Committee to seriously consider how London could stand ready to host the Olympics should the need arise,” Bailey said in a statement.
“We have the infrastructure and the experience, and if I am elected I will make sure London is ready to host the biggest sports celebration again if we are called on in an hour of need,” Bailey said.
The London mayoral election is due to take place on May 7, and Bailey is trailing in opinion polls behind incumbent Sadiq Khan.
Bailey’s comments, carried by several major Japanese media outlets, became a top trending topic on Twitter in the country with nearly 50,000 tweets on the subject.
“How dare you! Don’t deprive the Olympics of Japan! In the first place, the UK didn’t take any remedies for the `Diamond Princess’ owned by your country!”
The Diamond Princess is a UK-flagged vessel owned by Carnival Corp.
Another user said London would be the best back-up option.
“Probably the only major city that could, facilities, hotels et cetera all ready and the weather would be more conducive to both competitions/spectators than Tokyo,” @twose_brian also tweeted in English in reply to Bailey, tagging #LondonOlympics2020.
The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee did not comment on Bailey’s remarks.
It said in an e-mailed statement that they were taking the necessary steps over the coronavirus.
“Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organizations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases and we will review any counter-measure that may be necessary with all relevant organizations,” it said.