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Local Olympic Athlete prepares for Tokyo Games despite COVID-19 fears

Fate of games still in doubt after outbreak
Posted at 5:12 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 18:12:28-05

LAFAYETTE, La. — World Health Organization (WHO) officials said the new coronavirus outbreak has reached a "decisive point" and had the potential to become a pandemic. With less than five months to go until the Olympics begin, WHO emergencies program head Dr Mike Ryan said they were working closely with organizers of the Tokyo Olympic Games, providing them with assessment and risk management advice.

"We're working extremely closely with the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and are providing them with assessment and risk management advice. My understanding (is) no decision has or will be taken in the near-term regarding the future of the Olympics. We've said this with regard to all mass gatherings. We need a risk-management approach. There's no zero risk in organising any mass gathering at this moment in time but we need to do for each gathering and there are religious gatherings, there are sports gatherings, there are business gatherings all over the world all of the time. We need to have a clearly risk-management approach for those events and we're providing advice on that. We have an internal task force; we have a lot of experience in supporting mass gatherings before in the midst of Olympics like during the Zika outbreak, during the previous SARS outbreak and the Special Olympics and many others. And if you cast your mind back to those events many of those events went ahead with appropriate risk management. So we intend to work through the IOC task force which they've established with the Tokyo 2020 (Organising) Committee. So no decision on that from our perspective and we will be offering advice through time."
Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO Health Emergencies Program Executive Director

On Wednesday Tokyo 2020 officials said they are considering scaling down the torch relay due to concerns over the outbreak The committee's basic stance was that the Olympics and Paralympics would go ahead as planned, Tokyo 2020 CEO, Toshiro Muto told reporters. Japan has moved to quell fears that the Olympics might be canceled after International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said the Games would more likely be canceled than postponed or moved if the virus forced any change in the schedule.

Nicole Ahsinger is a Lafayette Olympian, she competed in the trampoline event at the 2016 games in Rio. This week she's beginning trials to earn a spot in this year's games in Tokyo. "I'm really excited, this is the first competition so i'm just trying to go out there and stay positive and do my best and see what we can do for the rest of the year", said Ahsinger.

Nicole moved to Lafayette several years ago to train under coach Dmitri Poliaroush. "Lafayette is the motherland of modern trampoline", Poliaroush explained of his reason for setting down roots in the heart of Cajun Country. The two are in Evansville, Indiana this week for the first round of qualification trials for the Tokyo Olympics.

While there are concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak -- for now the focus is on qualifying. "I never really thought about it but as like it gets talked about more and more i mean it's like crossing my mind but at the end of the day we're still going to train everyday like we're supposed to be training", said Ahsinger . "I mean of course like we're a little bit nervous about it but again you never know what could happen", added Poliaroush.

If the games don't go on as scheduled, Nicole said she's looking on the bright side, "if it gets postponed then I guess I have another year to work on training."