Virginia Tech swim coach, former Olympian says possible cancellation too early to determine

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) - The fate of the 2020 Summer Olympics is in question amid concerns about the Coronavirus. Officials are closely monitoring the spread of the virus and rumor of a potential cancellation has grabbed the attention of some locals, including Virginia Tech's swim coach.

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Swimming and Diving Head Coach Sergio Lopez Miro spends much of his time at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center, where he helps train his Hokies and other athletes from around the world.

Wednesday, we interviewed Lopez via FaceTime from his hotel room in Greensboro, where he's working to get his swimmers to nationals.

The ACC Championships come amid the chatter that the Olympics could be canceled because of the Coronavirus.

"I've been watching it to a certain extent," Lopez said. "I try not to follow the news."

Lopez said he's been getting updates from the International Olympic Committee. According to the Associated Press, the most senior committee member, Dick Pound, said this week that if the concern became serious enough, it could be canceled. But he is reported to have said in statements that that kind of decision might not be made until May.

"I'd be very upset and devastated for every athlete around the world who worked so hard for this moment in time," Lopez said.

He added that at this point, he thinks its too early to fret. He is an Olympian himself, earning bronze in the 1988 Olympics and placing fourth in the 1992 games. He's coached at three Olympic games with a few of his athletes earning gold.

He said the decision to cancel the games would be enormous.

"When a city prepares for four years or a country prepares for four years, and the financial burden that the Olympics puts on a city," he said, "I think they're gonna be very careful not to cancel."

That said, the Coronavirus has already affected swimmers he works with. Olympic trials in Singapore and Hong Kong have been canceled or moved, forcing swimmers to qualify elsewhere - and keep their cool.

"One of the things this sport teaches you is like, is that not every time, most of the time, things don't go the way you want," Lopez said. "Doesn't matter how hard you train, and how good you are at something. So you just need to stand up again and do it again or just find the positives of the negatives."

Tokyo 2020 leadership said Wednesday they are preparing for this summer's Olympics as planned, but are monitoring any incidences of infectious disease.

They told CNN Wednesday:
"We will continue to collaborate with all relevant organizations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organizations. The rest is speculation."

Lopez was a coach for Singapore's team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio where the Zika Virus was a large concern. He said while it did have an affect on Brazil, the games went on, with little to no immediate affect.

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