Krishnan Guru-Murthy has said he “understands” Sports Relief’s decision to relocate an upcoming challenge over coronavirus concerns but that he is used to being in “disaster zones”.
The Channel 4 journalist, 49, was due to travel to freezing Mongolia but will now take part in a four-day, 100-mile expedition across the Namib Desert in Namibia instead.
He will be joined by celebrities including Frankie Bridge, Karim Zeroual, Louise Minchin, Nick Grimshaw, Rob Rinder and Samantha Womack.
Guru-Murthy, who has visited locations including Yemen and Mexico as part of the Unreported World series, told the PA news agency the “main reason” behind Sport Relief’s decision was “caution”.
He said he was unfazed by the risk involved in visiting Mongolia, due to it neighbouring China, as he is “used to being in disaster zones”.
However, he said Sport Relief were keen to ensure the safety of competitors and crew.
He told PA: “It wasn’t my decision at the end of the day. It was a decision made and I can understand why they took it.
“At the end of the day they had a big team of people. People like me are used to being in disaster zones but you have got a bunch of people who aren’t.
“If something happened, if the airports were closed down or if the place suddenly went into isolation, or our plans suddenly had to change, I don’t think everybody is equipped to necessarily deal with that.
“Particularly with delays, if we got stuck in Mongolia for a week or two weeks, then that would obviously be a problem.
“I think that is the main reason – it was caution. It was the possibility that this was spreading quickly.
“When they took the decision there was a lot of concern that there were going to be cases in Mongolia and I am not sure what the current situation is.
“I am not sure if there have been confirmed cases yet. But there was talk of shutting things down in certain parts, and so that forced their hand and they had to decide to go with a different plan.
“It wasn’t something I was involved in. They rang me and I could see why that was sensible.”
Guru-Murthy said the challenge would be “basically torture” for him.
He added: “I am unfit – well … I have been trying to get fit but I am fundamentally not a very physical person, so this is not in my skill-set at all.”
The challenge, to raise awareness and fundraise for mental health services, has been renamed Sport Relief: The Heat Is On and airs from Monday.
For more information go to Sportrelief.com.