<pre><pre>China's virus spread could throw cold water at 2020 Games -chief

Toshiro Muto, CEO of Tokyo 2020, speaks to the audience at the opening of the 131st IOC meeting on September 13, 2017 in Lima, Peru. REUTERS / Guadalupe Pardo

TOKYO (Reuters) – The spread of a new corona virus could "throw cold water over the growing momentum of the 2020 games," said Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo Organizing Committee on Wednesday.

"I am seriously concerned … I hope this will be resolved as soon as possible," said Muto at a meeting with the organizers of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Japanese government officials, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said the government would work hard to minimize the impact of the virus outbreak on the games, which started on July 24.

The flu-like virus, which originated in downtown Wuhan, killed more than 490 people when two U.S. airlines canceled flights to Hong Kong after the first death and 10 cases were confirmed on a quarantined Japanese cruise ship.

At the start of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, vaccines against the virus are unlikely to be ready yet. A professor who dealt with health risks before the games told Reuters earlier and hoped that there would be enough time to set up defense mechanisms.

Saburo Kawabuchi, director of the athletes' village for the 2020 Olympic Games, said he hoped the games would go smoothly and free of the virus.

Some qualifying tournaments, including badminton and boxing, have been postponed due to the virus.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Edited by Antoni Slodkowski and Lincoln Feast.