Hamilton questions F1 start, Japan backs Olympics to go ahead





Tokyo (dpa) - Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has questioned the sport for continuing as normal with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday despite the global impact of the coronavirus.



"I am very, very surprised we are here," the Mercedes driver told a news conference on Thursday.
"It's great we have races but it's shocking we are sitting in this room."
Hamilton pointed to the most recent developments in sport and the greater world such as basketball's NBA halting its season and the United States shutting its border to travellers from Europe.
"It is very difficult having a fair judgement, but I do realize a lot of sporting competitions get cancelled and it is fair to ask the question why you are here," Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel said.
Japan insisted plans were continuing for the Tokyo Games in July.
"There is no change to the government stance that we will make preparations for the Tokyo Games as planned by keeping close contact with the International Olympic Committee, organizers, and the Tokyo metropolitan government," government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.
The World Health Organization says the coronavirus has reached 115 countries with nearly 4,300 fatalities.
Tokyo organizing committee member Haruyuki Takahashi was reprimanded for expressing a personal opinion to the Wall Street Journal a day earlier that the Games could be postponed.
The South American football confederation CONMEBOL requested global governing body FIFA postpone the start of its regional World Cup qualifying to Qatar 2022.
First games for the 10 CONMEBOL nations were scheduled for the end of this month. Asian World Cup qualifiers and matches in some European competitions have already been postponed while most leagues across Europe are now played behind closed doors.
England's Premier League is expected to make their games be behind closed doors on Thursday.

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Thursday, March 12th 2020
(dpa)
           


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