21 May 2020

IOC chief Bach accepts Olympic Games cancellation if Tokyo event cannot be held in 2021

The President of the International Olympic Committee is resigned to the fact the the Tokyo Games will likely be cancelled if they cannot be held in 2021.

Speaking to the BBC, IOC chief Thomas Bach sympathised with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s idea that next summer would be ’the last option’ for the already-rescheduled Games.

"Quite frankly, I have some understanding for this, because you cannot forever employ 3,000, or 5,000, people in an Organising Committee," he said.

"You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations. You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty."

Bach also acknowledged that the Winter Olympics in Beijing are scheduled for February 2022 and further postponements of the summer games could negatively impact this.

“You cannot have so much overlapping with a future Olympic Games, so I have some understanding for this approach by our Japanese partners,” he added.

“We have to be prepared for different scenarios. There is the clear commitment to having these games in July next year.”

There is also the possibility that the Games will have to be held behind closed doors due to restrictions on crowds at live events.

However, Bach insists the organisers were hoping to avoid this due to the community nature of the Games.

He said: “The Olympic spirit is about also uniting the fans and this is what makes the Games so unique that they're in an Olympic Stadium, all the fans from all over the world are together.

"But when it then would come to the decision... I would ask you to give me some more time for consultation with the athletes, with the World Health Organisation, with the Japanese partners."

The Olympic chief remained hopeful that the first ever postponed games would still have a significant place in history, dubbing them ’unique’ and ’a message of solidarity among the entire world, coming for the first time together again, and celebrating the triumph over coronavirus’.

“There is no blueprint for it so we have to reinvent the wheel day by day. It's very challenging and at the same time fascinating,” he added.

The Tokyo Olympic Games, which were originally scheduled for this year between July 24 and August 9, are now due to take place between July 23 and August 8, 2021.

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