IOC President Bach undeterred by Tokyo Olympic doubters

Sep 25 , 2020. 13 hours ago – 20:05 | KYODO NEWS

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (C) speaks at an online meeting on Sept. 24, 2020 between the IOC’s Coordination Commission and Tokyo Olympic organizers. (Pool)(Kyodo)

TOKYO – International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach asked organizers and stakeholders on Thursday to work diligently toward making the Tokyo Games, postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, safe and successful in Japan next summer.

Speaking online at the start of a two-day teleconference meeting between the IOC’s Coordination Commission and Tokyo Olympic organizers, Bach said it was not time to decide whether or not to go forward with the games and instead focus on preparation.

“We should not give in to people who are interested in putting pressure on us and ready to make an announcement (to cancel) now,” Bach said.

“This is not the appropriate time. We have to work diligently and work comprehensively and at the appropriate time take the right decisions.”

Bach did not, however, brush over the magnitude of difficulty involved in having the games ready to go on July 23, 2021, when planners from around the world are unable to meet face-to-face 10 months ahead of the opening ceremony. Although he repeatedly referred to next year’s games as the first of a “post-coronavirus world,” he admitted that nobody knows when the world will actually be in a post-coronavirus state.

“At this moment in time, the governments around the world cannot even tell you what you will be allowed to do tomorrow or next week or where you can travel,” he said. “Nobody can expect from us that we know what needs to be done 10 months from now to ensure a safe environment for everybody.”

“This is not only about the conditions in Japan and traveling to Japan. This is also concerning the conditions in the 205 other National Olympic Committees.”

The meeting is expected to focus on hammering out concrete safety measures and ways to simplify the games.

One safety effort is a set of immigration protocols that will allow athletes to enter Japan and train even if Japan prohibits travel from their homeland.

On the topic of streamlining, the organizing committee is expected to summarize initiatives such as simplifying the food and beverages service to IOC officials and reducing the number of temporary tents at venues.

Although Bach suggested there is promising news regarding the development of a vaccine, he pointed to Japan holding sports events with fans in attendance as evidence that large-scale sporting competitions can be held without vaccination.

CR:KYODO NEWS