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World News

Regina fire ‘adapting’ to ongoing challenges of COVID-19 pandemic

Regina Fire chief Layne Jackson says the department is doing everything it can to avoid a similar situation to what happened in Saskatoon earlier in the month — when firefighters came into contact with someone being tested for COVID-19.

Four firefighters from Saskatoon’s Fire Station No. 4 had to go into self-isolation as a result, but were eventually cleared and returned to work.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with the Saskatoon fire chief and listening to their experience and what they went through up there. I’m happy it turned out to be a good outcome for them,” Jackson said.

“We have some contingency plans in place for that, should we have the need for an emergency quarantine or isolation.

“We’re communicating to all the staff regularly and updating them on the situation, updating them on our preparation and sending out operation bulletins and operation flashes on how to adjust procedures and how to adjust tactics when going into these types of situations.”

He said that for the most part, it’s business as usual for all emergency responders.

“We’re still responding to all our emergency and all of our requests for service, but we’re taking extra precautions,” Jackson said.

“We have over 100 paramedics on the fire department and we respond to many emergency medical calls. We were definitely on top of this early on making sure the crews had the equipment.”

As for morale, Jackson said his team is doing well and are focused on serving the community.

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“I want to thank all of our emergency crews and staff here at the department. They’ve all been remarkable during this situation,” Jackson said.

“Our people are just like anybody else. They have families, they have worries and they get sick themselves. The staff are here and they are … up for the challenge. I’m pretty proud of them.”

City of Regina’s emergency operation centre

Regina’s fire department is also in charge of activating and operating the city’s emergency centre, in case of a major event.

Jackson said COVID-19 has presented the city with a unique situation.

“What makes the situation so complicated…we would usually have other departments that can step in and be relied upon when we are having a local emergency,” Jackson said.

“In this situation, all the jurisdictions whether it’s federal, provincial or sister of brother cities they’re all dealing with the same emergency, concurrently. It adds an element of complication because that’s a non-traditional approach.”

Whether it’s transit, waterworks, waste collection, planning and development or even the city’s communications team, Jackson said it’s been great watching the departments come together during this pandemic.

“I’m always excited about the work emergency services is doing, but I’m really excited when I see all the other critical services in the city coming together and really stepping up,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the city has some great people working inside its emergency operation centre focused on dealing with COVID-19.

City of Moose Jaw services

In Moose Jaw, the city said it has been challenging for emergency responders to try and maintain safe distances while attending scenes, having to deploy more resources.

The city also said it hasn’t seen a noticeable spike in water use, but waste has increased. It’s actively monitoring the situation to see if they need to boost collection efforts.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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World News

Coronavirus: Saskatchewan athlete Brock Weston recounts falling ill with COVID-19

The possibility of having COVID-19 started to become real for Brock Weston as he drove home to Saskatchewan.

The Wisconsin college student had had fever sweats the night before. A stuffy nose and sore throat he thought were from dust in the air or maybe, at worst, a cold or flu had been hanging around for a couple of days.

“I had no appetite. I couldn’t smell. My eyes were hurting,” the 25-year-old told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.

“I thought, ‘OK, maybe this is a little more than just the flu.’”

Weston, who plays hockey and studies biology and chemistry at Marian University, had been packing for his trip home last week when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians abroad to hurry back.

While on the road, he called his parents about taking extra precautions for his arrival at the family farm near Maidstone, about a two and half hour drive west of Saskatoon.

When he got there, he still felt lousy. He was running a fever and coughing and noticed pressure in his chest when he took deep breaths.

“You read about the people that started with this mild chest pressure and all of a sudden they’re in the hospital and can’t breathe,” Weston said.

“I was definitely nervous once I started to kind of realize that I might have it.”

He did a self-assessment, which told him he should call for a referral. He phoned a clinic in town, which led to more calls until he was booked in for a test.

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When he arrived for testing in Lloydminster, Weston phoned from a parking spot and was directed to a building through a set of doors. He was instructed to sanitize and put on a mask.

Weston said a health worker took a swab resembling a large Q-Tip and inserted it high into both sides of his nose.

“It was mostly just uncomfortable,” he said.

“Kind of like a sneeze that would never come.”

He was told it could take a week for results, but three days later he received a call.

He had tested positive for COVID-19.

Weston is self-isolating in the basement of his parents’ house while they stay upstairs. He said he’s sharing the story of his symptoms and diagnosis so others will take the virus seriously, stay home and think of others.

COVID-19 certainly slowed him down, he said.

“I had absolutely no sense of smell and no taste. I had no appetite for five days. I lost over 10 pounds.

“I kind of got this migraine that just carried over four or five days that made my eyes just hurt. Couldn’t look to left, right, up, down.”

Weston said he’s now feeling almost 100 per cent, after lots of sleep and liquids.

And he’s helping out on the farm.

“It’s a little easier on the farm because I can stay six feet away from Dad outside.”

Weston is not entirely sure where he contracted the virus, but believes it was while he was in Nashville on a spring break with friends.

He has to have two negative test results to be out of quarantine. The first test is set for Saturday.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.


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World News

Coronavirus-hit workers now legally allowed to carry over annual leave

British workers will legally be able to carry their annual leave over after coronavirus decimated holiday plans.

Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual holidays because of the coronavirus crisis will be able to carry it over into the next two years, the Government has announced.

Most workers are entitled to 28 days' holiday including bank holidays every year.

However many can;t be carried between each year, meaning workers lose their holiday if they do not take it.

But after government intervention, employers also face financial penalties if they do not ensure their workers take their statutory entitlement in any one year.

Interventions announced on Friday will allow up to four weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next two leave years.

The Government said the changes will ensure all employers affected by Covid-19 have the flexibility to allow workers to carry over leave at a time when granting it could leave them short-staffed in some of Britain's key industries, such as food and healthcare.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: "Whether it is in our hospitals, or our supermarkets, people are working around the clock to help our country deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

"Today's changes will mean these valued employees do not lose out on the annual leave they are entitled to as a result of their efforts, and employers are not penalised."

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Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "From our fields to our supermarkets, we are hugely grateful to the many people working around the clock to keep the nation fed.

"At this crucial time, relaxing laws on statutory leave will help ensure key workers can continue the important work to keep supplies flowing, but without losing the crucial time off they are entitled to.

"We welcome the measures the food industry is already taking to keep shelves stocked and supply chains resilient, and will continue to support them with their response to coronavirus."

The changes will amend the Working Time Regulations, which apply to almost all workers, including agency workers, those who work irregular hours, and workers on zero-hours contracts.

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World News

Coronavirus: Dufferin County, Ont. declares state of emergency

Dufferin County, Ont. declared a statement of emergency on Thursday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to the rapidly changing conditions, it has become necessary to declare an emergency so that we may be able to address resident needs in a more timely manner,” Dufferin County Warden Darren White said in a statement.

County officials say the emergency declaration doesn’t change the rules that exist to ensure the municipality operates effectively.

“The county continues to provide essential services to the community,” officials say.

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“This includes, but is not limited to our long-term care home, income and community housing supports, waste and recycling pick-up, general maintenance of county roads, building permit applications and inspections.”

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 835 active cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario. There have been 15 deaths in the province.

Map of Canadian COVID-19 cases:

 

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World News

Spanish bullfighters ‘demand £634m’ coronavirus cash bailout sparking fury

Much of coronavirus-ravaged Spain has erupted in outrage after bullfighting bosses demanded a massive government cash bailout.

Industry chiefs are asked for a €700 million (£635 million) in taxpayer cash injection to save keep bloodsport afloat, reports say.

Several organisations that defend and promote bullfights have asked the Spanish government to refund tickets for cancelled shows and pay the bullfighters’ wages.

It comes as the same time as the national sport has fallen out of favour with most Spaniards deeming it cruel.

In a joint letter, bull bosses told culture minister José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes that VAT should be dropped further and that the state should cover their sanitary and veterinary expenses.

And now the minister has reportedly committed himself to resolving the situation, provoking fresh fury.

The storm of controversy comes as Spain’s coronavirus death toll soars to 3,434 – higher than China and second only to Italy.

Madrid-based Marta Esteban, of Animal Guardians, said the bullfighting sector – which already gets government funding – seemed to want hundreds of millions of euros more.

“They say they lost €700m. I guess that’s what they are looking for,” she said.

“But there’s no confirmation from the government on what they will do.

“In a moment in which the rest of Spain is giving its all to help each other, the bullfighting world is thinking on how to get money from us to help themselves.

“The business of torturing animals for entertainment should never get public funding, much less now when the health system and helping the most needy should be the priority.”

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Unable to protest publicly, Spaniards flooded social media with criticism, making the country’s number-one trending Twitter hashtag #AyudasTauromaquiaNO, meaning “no help to bullfighting”.

Many shared selfies with placards demanding “more health workers, less bullfighters”, directly addressing the culture minister and his boss, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Aïda Gascón, director of the Spanish NGO, AnimaNaturalis, said the government should reallocate all bullfighting subsidies.

She said: “We believe not only that the government should ignore these demands, but that it should rethink aid to bullfighting and allocate it where it is most necessary.

“Public resources should not be used to promote shows based on animal abuse and mistreatment.

“Even less so in the coming months, when all public effort and support will be needed to allocate them to health resources and to alleviate economic effects for families, freelancers and companies."

Mr Sánchez’ deputy, Carmen Calvo, is among those who’ve tested positive for the coronavirus. She has been admitted to hospital with respiratory symptoms.

Bullfighting has been on the wane in Spain in recent years.

In 2016, Ipsos MORI polled Spaniards between the ages of 16 and 65, and found 58% opposed it, while 19% supported it.

The same polling found that only one in 10 Spaniards wanted public funds used on the bullfighting industry, while six of 10 strongly disagreed with that use.

Further figures showed that there were 58% fewer bullfights in Spain last year than a decade previously.

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World News

UK to use firefighters to deliver food, collect bodies in coronavirus crisis

LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom will use firefighters to help deliver food, retrieve dead bodies and drive ambulances as it braces for the looming peak of the coronavirus outbreak that has already claimed the lives of more than 22,000 people across the world.

Britain initially took a strikingly modest approach to the worst health crisis since the 1918 influenza epidemic but then changed tack to impose stringent controls after projections showed a quarter of a million British people could die.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a virtual lockdown of the world’s fifth largest economy to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus banning Britons from leaving their homes for all non-essential reasons.

So far, 578 people in the United Kingdom have died after testing positive for coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases has risen to 11,658. The UK toll is the seventh worst in the world, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran, France and the United States, according to a Reuters tally.

Under a deal struck between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), Fire chiefs and Fire and Rescue Employers, firefighters will continue to respond to their usual emergencies but will now also carry out new tasks.

“We face a public health crisis unparalleled in our lifetimes. The coronavirus outbreak is now a humanitarian emergency and firefighters rightly want help their communities,” said Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary.

“Many fear the loss of life in this outbreak could be overwhelming and firefighters, who often handle terrible situations and incidents, are ready to step in to assist with body retrieval.”

As well as collecting those who die should there be mass casualties, firefighters can drive ambulances, and take food and medicine to the vulnerable under the agreement.

To cope with the outbreak, Britain has already asked tens of thousands of retired doctors and healthcare workers to return to work, while hundreds of thousands of people have volunteered to assist the state-run National Health Service.

On Friday, the capital’s ambulance service appealed to former paramedics and control room staff for help, and London’s police force asked officers who have retired in the last five years to come back.

“It is important that we take all reasonable steps to bolster our numbers,” London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said.

BRITAIN CLAPS

Britons across the country took to their balconies and front doors on Thursday evening to applaud health workers and bang pots and pans to show support for those working for the nation’s much-loved NHS.

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  • UK working quickly as it can on ventilators after missing EU scheme: PM's spokesman

There has been criticism that the government has not acted quickly enough to provide protective equipment to frontline healthcare staff and it is also scrambling to source thousands of ventilators to treat those with severe breathing problems caused by the virus.

The government has admitted that it missed an opportunity to join a European Union procurement scheme to source the equipment because of an email mix up.

“There was an issue in terms of communications so the tendering process on those schemes had already started,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma told BBC radio on Friday.

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Economy

UK's plan B if 'Team Johnson' is incapacitated? Answer is unclear

LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) – What would happen if British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s case of coronavirus – so far he has “mild symptoms” – were to become more serious or even incapacitate him and his team? Under Britain’s uncodified constitution, the answer is unclear.

Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both said they were able to keep working from self-isolation at home after confirming they had tested positive for the virus.

But the fact that two such crucial members of the British government have contracted the disease – and their top medical adviser is now self-isolating with symptoms – has raised questions about how the government would function without them at a time of global crisis.

With only an unwieldy collection of sometimes ancient and contradictory precedents to go by, there is no simple, formally-enshrined “Plan B” or succession scenario, experts said.

“We’ve not been in that kind of situation, we’ve not had to think about it from that point of view before,” Catherine Haddon, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government, told Reuters.

Whereas in the United States the vice president steps up if the president dies or becomes incapacitated, Britain has no formal deputy or caretaker prime minister who would take over.

Downing Street has already said, however, that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would deputise if necessary.

Nor is there any guidance for such circumstances in the Cabinet Manual which sets out the rules and conventions for the running of government, and there is little precedence.

When asked about who would stand in for the prime minister, his spokesman said: “The prime minister has the power to delegate responsibility to any of his ministers, but for now it is the prime minister and then the foreign secretary.”

CHURCHILL’S STROKE

In June 1953, then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill suffered a stroke while in office. His illness was kept so secret that some senior ministers were unaware.

Churchill surprised doctors by recovering to carry on his duties, returning to Downing Street and running the cabinet two months later.

More recently, Tony Blair twice underwent treatment for a heart condition while prime minister in the early 2000s, each time briefly cutting back on his workload for a couple of days.

Officials said had he been incapacitated, his then-deputy John Prescott would take over until a new leader was elected.

There is no suggestion Johnson is unable to perform his job, and his spokesman said he could carry on as before, although he was now doing so via teleconferencing.

Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service from January 2012 to September 2014, agreed that Johnson and ministers could continue to operate by video, but said there were potential drawbacks.

“It is a cabinet government but the prime minister’s role is crucial at this time, not least … because of the visible leadership that the country needs,” he told Sky News.

MUDDLE THROUGH?

Kerslake said officials would need to know there was a system for what would happen if senior ministers were unable to do their jobs.

Losing Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who coordinates policy across government, would be a serious blow.

“He is critical to all of this,” Kerslake said. “If, for whatever reason, he was ill, who takes over from him?”

Haddon said some powers were specifically vested in cabinet ministers, so there was an issue of what happened if they were unavailable.

“If you got to a stage where … you had secretaries of state who aren’t able to perform their functions, then there are question marks about whether junior ministers in their department act on their behalf,” she said.

One lawmaker in Johnson’s party, who has repeatedly tried to bring in a law to formalise who would replace a prime minister in the event of incapacity, said last week no one seemed to know what would happen.

“In a national emergency, you don’t want to be scrabbling around worrying about who’s in charge,” Peter Bone told the Mirror newspaper.

However, Haddon said naming Raab as Johnson’s substitute would prevent a political squabble among senior ministers over who fronted press conferences or chaired meetings.

“It is valuable for them to work out contingencies for various scenarios and they have obviously done a certain amount of thinking about that,” she said.

She said prime ministers and cabinet ministers were often absent and government operated in their absence.

“Secretaries of state go on holiday and their department functions without them. The prime minister goes on holiday and the rest of government is able to continue working,” she added.

“If there are things that (are) invested in a secretary of state and it is not proper for someone to act on their behalf, that’s when it becomes a problem.” (Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Mike Collett-White)

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World News

Britain's PM Johnson has coronavirus, self-isolates in Downing Street

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating at his Downing Street residence but said he would still lead the government’s response to the accelerating outbreak.

Johnson, 55, experienced mild symptoms on Thursday, a day after he answered at the prime minister’s weekly question-and-answer session in parliament’s House of Commons chamber, and received the positive test result around midnight.

“I’ve taken a test. That has come out positive,” Johnson said on Friday in a video statement broadcast on Twitter. “I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus. That’s to say – a temperature and a persistent cough.

“So I am working from home. I’m self-isolating,” Johnson said. “Be in no doubt that I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus.”

British health minister Matt Hancock said later on Friday morning that he has also tested positive and is self-isolating at home with mild symptoms.

Johnson is the first leader of a major power to announce a positive test result for coronavirus. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went into isolation earlier this month after his wife tested positive for the virus.

U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both been tested, so far with negative results.

Johnson chaired a government meeting on the coronavirus on Friday morning via teleconference.

ISOLATING IN DOWNING STREET

It was not immediately clear how many Downing Street staff and senior ministers would need to isolate themselves given that many have had contact with Johnson over recent days and weeks.

The moment Johnson felt symptoms he took steps to avoid close contact with anyone, a spokesman said, adding that ministers would need to self-isolate if they developed symptoms but that he was unaware of further testing among senior ministers.

Johnson will have his meals delivered to the door of an apartment at Number 11 Downing Street, while he self-isolates for seven days from the warren of corridors and rooms that make up the seat of British political power at Number 10 Downing Street.

“The doors between Number 10 and Number 11 have been closed off to all other staff who work in the building,” a Downing Street spokesman said. “The PM will work from the office and the study in Number 11.”

His finance minister, Rishi Sunak, who traditionally works out of Number 11 Downing Street, is not self-isolating, a Treasury source said.

Britons paid tribute to health workers on Thursday evening, clapping and cheering from doorways and windows. Johnson and Sunak took part, but came out of separate entrances on Downing Street and did not come into close contact, according to a Reuters photographer at the scene.

It was not immediately clear whether Johnson’s 32-year-old partner, Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, had been tested.

QUEEN IN GOOD HEALTH

Queen Elizabeth last saw Johnson on March 11 and she remains in good health, Buckingham Palace said. The 93-year-old monarch usually sees the prime minister once a week but has recently conducted the regular audience by telephone.

“The queen last saw the PM on the 11th March and is following all the appropriate advice with regards to her welfare,” a palace spokesman said.

So far, 578 people in the United Kingdom have died after testing positive for coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases has risen to 11,658. The death toll is the seventh highest in the world, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran, France and the United States, according to a Reuters tally.

Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the British throne, tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week. He is in good health and is now self-isolating at his residence in Scotland with mild symptoms along with his wife Camilla, who tested negative, his office said.

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World News

Coronavirus: New city tipline looks to crack down on Londoners violating COVID-19 orders

Are you a non-essential business defying government orders to close amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

How about a Londoner going to the grocery store despite recently testing positive?

Or maybe a traveller failing to self-quarantine for two weeks after returning from south of the border?

If you’re any or all of these things, the city has a message for you: follow COVID-19-related orders or face the consequences.

To prove they’re not bluffing, the city, in partnership with the London Police Service (LPS) and the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), says a new tipline has been set up to crack down on those flouting provincial orders and municipal closures.

Londoners can contact the tipline by email or phone to voice concerns about non-essential businesses that are still open, large gatherings of 50 or more people, Londoners not following federal government quarantine orders, and people taking part in activities at closed outdoor structures.

“Everyone has the responsibility to follow all of the orders that have been issued by governments, and to take every precaution possible to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Dave O’Brien, the city’s division manager of corporate security and emergency management, in a statement Friday.

Despite efforts from health and government officials in reinforcing the importance of physical distancing and, if necessary, self-quarantining, O’Brien says they continue to see people not paying attention.

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“When we receive a call or email through this new process, we will work with our community partners at LPS and MLHU to enforce the restrictions that have been put in place,” he said.

Londoners can utilize the tipline by emailing [email protected] or by dialing 519-661-4660.

The city says the email address will be monitored 24/7, while the phone line will be monitored Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

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Sports

Athletics: Olympic qualification process and late season being studied, says Coe

LONDON (REUTERS) – World Athletics is working to restart a shuttered athletics season and studying any changes that may be needed in the qualifying process for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, president Seb Coe said on Friday (March 27).

The governing body is hoping to offer a series of meetings that may begin in August and run to October so athletes can get back in to competition as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so due to the coronavirus pandemic, Coe said in a letter addressed to the athletics community.

“We don’t yet know the date for the Games next year,” Coe said, “but once they (the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government) have made it, we will look at what, if any, impact that decision has on our World Athletics Championships Oregon 21.”

Many expect the championships in Eugene, Oregon, to be moved to 2022.

Athletics’ global governing body also hopes to provide an answer as soon as possible to any changes to the Tokyo Olympics qualifying process, Coe said.

World Athletics began reviewing its Olympic qualification process after the IOC and sports federations agreed that all athletes currently qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Games will remain qualified for next year’s event.

“In athletics the primary qualification avenue is by meeting the entry standards set out in March 2019,” Coe added.

“Once those places are allocated, the remaining athletes are drawn from the world ranking list. As of today, all athletes who have met the entry standards for their event will remain qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021. This is approximately 50 per cent of the places.”

A major review is also underway of the global calendar of events, not just for the next two years which will see some major disruptions, but for the long term.

The decision comes as athletics’ Diamond League series announced on Friday it has cancelled its meetings through June but hopes to have a late season.

“The priority for all of us right now is to contain the pandemic, stay healthy and stay home,” Coe said. “But where we can continue to drive our sport forward.

“The world will not be the same after this pandemic.”

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