IOC president admits to daily doubts over Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO, 20 July 2021:

The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday admitted there had been doubts every day regarding the Tokyo Olympic Games over the past 15 months due to the coronavirus pandemic .

He said the organisation decided not to make them public so as not to add to the uncertainty already surrounding the event.

Thomas Bach made was presenting the final report on the preparations for the Games in the Japanese capital at the 138th IOC session, which began today in Tokyo in a mixed face-to-face and online format – three days before the opening ceremony of the sporting event.

The IOC president pointed out that at the start of the pandemic, IOC and Japanese organisers faced a choice – cancellation or postponement of the Games, and said going for the first option “would have been the easy way for us”.

“But in fact, cancellation was never an option for us: the IOC never abandons the athletes.

“Therefore, we took the unprecedented decision to postpone the Olympic Games. Today, I can admit that we did not know how complex this would be.

“The only certainty we had was that, rather than cashing in on the insurance, we would have to invest much more to make these Olympic Games possible.”

Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Seiko Hashimoto described holding the event as “a first-ever challenge in the history of the Olympic Games” but expressed confidence that “sport and the athletes will present the power to change the world and our future.”

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike acknowledged the athletes for continuing to train despite the postponement. “When athletes shine, they really become the light of hope for the people.”

Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga, who also spoke at the session, said the significance of the Games would not be reduced despite the limits on spectators.

“The world is faced with great difficulty – now is the time that we have to unite and, with the efforts and wisdom of humankind, deliver the Games. We can do that.”

The top priority of the IOC and the hosts is “ensuring safe and secure Olympic Games for everyone: the athletes and all participants, as well as our gracious hosts, the Japanese people,” Bach said.

The sporting event will be held in an unprecedented “bubble” with no spectators, a ban on overseas fans and strict restrictions on the movement of all the participants.