MERS fear strikes domestic sports games
Gwangju Universiade organizers worried
2015-06-05 By Nam Hyun-woo The Korea Times
Amid growing fear over the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Korea's sports community is also paying keen attention, suspending a number of events where the virus may spread in crowds gathered at stadiums.
Gwangju Universiade organizers are worried about the quadrennial event that hosts some 12,000 athletes and coaches across the globe will visit the city next month.
As of Thursday, 10,926 athletes from 115 countries have had their individual entries submitted to the Universiade's organizing committee. Some 230 are from four Middle Eastern countries — 58 Iranian, 41 Jordanian, 78 Lebanese and 55 from the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Qatar have not yet done so, but the committee expects them to before the games start.
An official who is in charge of medical operations at the Gwangju Universiade told The Korea Times that the organizers will bolster monitoring of athletes and visitors during the games, adding that they are now coming up with measures to prevent the spread of any virus, but said the FISU has not expressed any concern over MERS.
If there are any MERS cases at the Universiade, the committee said it will follow its crisis management protocol, which includes quarantining people at the nearby Jeonnam University Hospital. In this situation, officials at FISU will decide whether to continue the event.
Despite the organizers' efforts, the virus will likely affect the event's domestic popularity. So far, there have been no confirmed cases in Gwangju, but there is growing public sentiment to avoid mass crowd, for fear of a potential infection.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is also paying more attention to the spread of MERS.
(Read the full story in The Korea Times