Kolkata: Thomas Bach, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, allayed fears about the Tokyo Olympics being postponed again in view of renewed fears that the Games may not take place due to a second wave of the Coronavirus in certain parts of the world. The Tokyo 2020, postponed last year, is scheduled to start in less than six months from July 23.
Saturday, in fact, marks six months until the rearranged Olympics are due to start on July 23. Despite dwindling public support and a surge in coronavirus cases across the world, organisers are adamant the Games will go ahead.
“We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” Bach told Kyodo News.
“This is why there is no Plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these Games safe and successful,” he added.
With the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on the horizon and rapidly escalating costs further reducing public support, Tokyo organisers have repeatedly ruled out postponing the Games again.
However, with parts of Europe and the US still paralysed by the virus and Tokyo under a state of emergency, the doubting voices are growing louder. Former London 2012 deputy chairman Keith Mills this week said he thought the Games looked “unlikely” to happen, while British Olympics legend Matthew Pinsent said it was “ludicrous” to go ahead.
In Japan, whose emergency measures cover greater Tokyo and other parts of the country, public disenchantment is rising. A poll this month found 80 percent of respondents opposed hosting the event this year, with 35 percent favouring outright cancellation and 45 percent calling for further postponement.
The Australian Open grand slam has underlined the complexity of organising international sport in the pandemic, with major problems bringing in players and keeping them Covid-free.
“It’s been really eye-opening here in Melbourne to see and hear the amount of logistical challenges and the scale of trying to organise just a tennis event in the current situation,” said Gordon Reid, the British wheelchair tennis player and Paralympic gold-medallist.
“You’ve got to multiply that by a thousand when it comes to the Olympics and Paralympics because they are on another scale.”
Tokyo 2020 chiefs say another postponement is “absolutely impossible”, meaning the Games will be cancelled if they cannot go ahead this year. They are pushing ahead with a raft of coronavirus countermeasures intended to ensure a safe Games, even without vaccines which remain non-mandatory for athletes.
A 53-page interim report released in December outlines measures including a ban on supporters cheering, regular testing for athletes and limited stays at the Olympic village.