IOC president Thomas Bach insists Olympics will go ahead as planned

We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on July 23 in the Olympic Stadium
IOC president Thomas Bach insists Olympics will go ahead as planned

The IOC and its president Thomas Bach remain committed to the Olympic Games beginning as scheduled on July 23. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

There is no reason whatsoever to believe the Olympic Games will not begin as scheduled on July 23 in Tokyo despite the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has said.

There have been renewed calls to cancel the Games, with Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent suggesting the event could be put back to 2024 to prevent Tokyo missing out altogether.

Bach told the Kyodo news agency in Japan: “We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on July 23 in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.

Parking inspectors wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk past the Japan National Stadium (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

“This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these Games safe and successful.”

He accepted that measures such as reducing capacities or even staging the Games completely behind closed doors would have to be kept in mind.

“You may not like it but sacrifices will be needed,” the German said.

“This is why I’m saying ‘safety first’, and no taboo in the discussion to ensure safety.”

The Olympic and Paralympic Games were originally postponed in March last year and put back by 12 months.

However, even the rescheduled Games are now coming under pressure, and an opinion poll conducted by Kyodo found 80 per cent of respondents wanted the Games cancelled or postponed again.

In response to that, Bach said: “From a human point of view, I have some understanding. It is difficult to imagine what will happen in six months.

“But at the time of the Games, the situation will be different, and the measures being taken will be different,” he said.

“I am sure that with the improvement of the situation, also these people will think differently.”

London 2012 chief executive Keith Mills said earlier this week it looked “unlikely” the Games could go ahead against the backdrop of rising infection rates and the emergence of variant strains of the virus.

World Athletics president Seb Coe struck a more upbeat tone, saying: “I don’t think it will be cancelled.

“It is going to be a challenge, we know that, it is pretty self-evident and there will be adaptations.

“But of all the countries on the planet that has the fortitude and the resilience to see this through, it is Japan. I wake up as a federation president grateful that Japan is dealing with this and not some other places I could think of.”

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