Judo Olympic qualifiers cancelled until end of April due to coronavirus

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were previously set to open July 24. The Paralympics were scheduled to open Aug. 25. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

The International Judo Federation (IJF) has cancelled all Olympic qualification events through to the end of April because of the global coronavirus epidemic, saying it was of utmost importance to keep athletes safe as travel has become increasingly risky.

All qualifiers up to April 30, including the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam in Russia and the Grand Prix events in Tbilisi, Georgia, and in Antalya, Turkey, have been cancelled, the federation said in a statement.

"Unfortunately the situation is now dangerous and critical from many points of view," the federation said.

"It is of paramount importance to keep the judo family safe in these difficult times, and also to ensure fair chances for all athletes engaged in the Olympic qualification."

The IJF said it would release more information in the upcoming days regarding the cancellation.

The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted several other qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 and sparked worries the Games could be delayed or cancelled outright. The Summer Olympics are scheduled from July 24 to Aug. 9.

However, the International Olympic Committee and local organisers have repeated continually that the Olympics will open as scheduled.