It’s been a tough old week for Tokyo 2020 . For starters the organisers of this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games had to quash a rumour doing the rounds that the Games were off. That stemmed from Buzzap!, a Japanese-language web portal, where the hashtag “Tokyo Olympics cancelled” was shared at least 50,000 times, as reported by The Guardian . This rumour had started out after German press agency DPA ran a story reporting discussions between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Health Organisation over the coronavirus epidemic . That story said that the IOC were “concerned” rather than the Games were cancelled but that did not stop 50,000 shares in Japan. Chinese coronavirus forces World Athletics to postpone Indoor Championships to 2021 The IOC saw fit to act, telling the DPA that rumours of the Games’ demise were greatly exaggerated. “We have never discussed cancelling the Games. Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with the IOC and relevant organisations and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary,” organisers said in a statement to DPA. They should not have needed to act. We should be all too aware of how this situation came about. Every day another rumour is spread halfway around the world before the truth has fumbled for the snooze button. In Hong Kong, the latest viral rumour was that there would be no more toilet paper, a fitting metaphor for the tissue of lies. Tomorrow it will be something else. We’re more prone to panic than a Smiths tribute act. You have to feel for the Tokyo 2020 organisers as they deal with this amid trying to pull off the Games. First they had to deny the “fake news” and then they had to call for calm, while by their own admission they are worried by the rising death toll and number of infections from the spreading virus. Make that “extremely worried” in fact. “We are extremely worried in the sense that the spread of the infectious virus could pour cold water on momentum for the Games,” chief executive officer of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee Toshiro Muto said at a meeting in the capital last week. Nike Vaporfly escape Tokyo 2020 ban but what can runners learn from cycling and swimming about ‘technological doping’? “I hope that it can be eradicated as quickly as possible. We plan to cooperate with the IOC, the IPC (International Paralympic Committee), the government and the city of Tokyo to tackle the disease,” he added. Other members of the organising team were similarly “on message”, the mayor of the athletes’ village, Saburo Kawabuchi, among them. “I truly hope that the infectious disease will die down somehow so that we will be able to operate the Paralympics and Olympics smoothly,” he was quoted in The Guardian . The Olympic Village is to play home to 11,000 Olympians, so you can understand his reason for hope. Saburo Kawabuchi, the mayor of the village, said on Thursday that his “No. 1 worry is the new coronavirus” and pledged to do his “utmost to ensure a safe and secure athletes’ village”, as reported by Japan’s Kyodo News Agency. “We can’t predict at what point this will be over,” Kawabuchi said. “Assuming the worst-case scenario, we will deal with it as guided by the International Olympic Committee and the Games’ organising committee.” IOC protest ban flies in the face of Olympic spirit as protesting becomes a way of life That “worst-case scenario” was translated differently in Western media: “In the worst case we will do our utmost for the athletes so that they will be able to concentrate on performing their best.” That brings the question: what is the worst-case scenario for the Games? Officially there are no plans to cancel. With the cases of coronavirus rising daily, we can be sure of one thing: We are at the stage where this is getting worse rather than better. The view of virus experts is that we will not turn the corner until cases stop increasing by the day. Sports events will rightly continue to suffer to combat the spread. After events in China have been moved and cancelled – including Tokyo 2020 women’s football qualifiers – other countries are introducing measures. Vietnam has decided there will be no events in February. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have both cancelled individual events. More will follow. Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike offered a slightly more pessimistic view than other officials. “We must firmly tackle the new coronavirus to contain it, or we are going to regret it,” she said. That line came at the opening of the 15,000-seat Ariake Arena, which will host the volleyball. It was set to be broken in with the Tokyo Tournament in late April between Japan, Australia, South Korea and China but that is now in doubt. While officials are being sensible, they cannot control their public. What Tokyo 2020 needs to remember is that it is just as at risk from rumours going viral as it is from the coronavirus itself. They are what could really pour cold water on this Olympics.