TOKYO (AP) – IOC President Thomas Bach and local organizers are resisting reports that the postponed Tokyo Olympics will be canceled.
Scheduled for July 23, the Tokyo Games were postponed 10 months ago, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and now the event looks threatened again.
The Times of London, citing unidentified government sources, said the games would have to be canceled. He cited an unidentified senior member of the government coalition.
“Nobody wants to be the first to say that, but the consensus is that it is very difficult,” said the source. “Personally, I don’t think this is going to happen.”
In a statement on Friday, the local organizing committee did not directly address the story of The Times, but said that the Olympics were advancing and had the support of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
“All of our delivery partners, including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the IOC and the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) are fully focused on hosting the games this summer,” the statement said. .
“We hope that daily life can return to normal as quickly as possible, and we will continue to make every effort to prepare for safe and secure games.”
Managu Sakai, the deputy chief secretary of the cabinet and an ally of the prime minister, also dropped the story.
“There is no such fact and we clearly deny it (the report),” he said.
The Times of London said that Japan hoped to achieve the 2032 Olympics. The IOC has already awarded the 2024 Olympics to Paris and the 2028 version to Los Angeles.
The prospect of Tokyo waiting a decade seems unlikely, given the cost of maintaining the sites, negotiating new rentals, and so on. Tokyo has already spent about $ 25 billion to organize these Olympics, most of which are public money.
Several reports of cancellation began to emerge this month, when the Japanese government put Tokyo and other city halls in a state of emergency to contain the increase in COVID-19 cases.
“At the moment, we have no reason to believe that the Tokyo Olympic Games will not start on July 23 at the Tokyo Olympic stadium,” Bach told Japanese news agency Kyodo on Thursday. He also said that “there is no Plan B.”
Richard Pound, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee, said earlier this week that the Olympics can be held largely without fans, making it a mostly televised event.
The IOC, based in Switzerland, obtains 73% of its revenue from the sale of broadcasting rights and saw its main source of revenue stagnated by the postponement of the Olympics. A basically TV-only event would be more suitable for the IOC than a cancellation.
Unlike other sports companies that offer hundreds of games, the IOC has only two main events to sell – the Summer and Winter Olympics.
Bach suggested that radical changes may be necessary to start the Tokyo Olympics, which involve 11,000 athletes and tens of thousands of coaches, officials, judges, VIPS, media and announcers.
About 4,400 athletes will participate in the Paralympic Games, which are scheduled to start on August 24th.
“You may not like it, but sacrifices are needed,” said Bach. “That’s why I’m saying, safety first, and no taboos in the discussion to ensure safety.”
Japan reported less than 5,000 coronavirus deaths and handled the virus better than most countries. But the increase is not slowing in Tokyo, a sprawling metropolitan area of 35 million.
Public opinion in Japan has also turned against the games, with 80% in various polls saying they should be postponed again or canceled.
Bach said organizers are in a better position to host the Olympics now than they were 10 months ago, when the games were postponed.
“First of all, I want to make it clear that you cannot compare March 2021 with March 2020 because there is great progress in science, medicine, vaccination and (virus) testing,” Bach told Kyodo. “All of this was not available in March last year. No one yet really knew how to deal with the pandemic, and now we know a lot more. “
Japan is experiencing a slow rollout of vaccines. However, the IOC said its measures against the virus would focus on testing, quarantine, social detachment and keeping athletes isolated.
He encouraged athletes to be vaccinated, but will not require it.
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