Tokyo Olympics would be cancelled if not held in 2021, says IOC President

LONDON (XINHUA) – The Tokyo Olympic Games will be cancelled if it is not possible to hold it in 2021, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach told BBC Sport.

The Tokyo Olympic Games, originally scheduled for July to August this year, has been postponed by one year to July 23 to August 8, 2021.

In April, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto denied further postponement of the Games before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made it clear later that the Games will not be held unless the COVID-19 pandemic is contained.

“You cannot forever employ 3,000, or 5,000, people in an organising committee,” the IOC chief was quoted as saying. “You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations. You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty.”

Although Bach stressed “clear commitment” to host the Games in July next year, the IOC chief admitted they have to consider health measures, maybe quarantine for part of athletes and for other participants.

“There are so many different options that it’s not easy to address them now,” he said, adding that appropriate decision could only be made when they “have a clear view” on how the world will be like on the new dates for the Games.

A pedestrian wearing masks walk past the Olympic rings in Tokyo. PHOTO: XINHUA

Speaking of the possibility of having the Games behind closed doors, Bach said, “This is not what we want.”

“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 Organization, with the Japanese partners,” he admitted.

Last Thursday, the Japanese government decided to lift the state of emergency ahead of the planned deadline for 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures, but Tokyo is still under state of emergency.

As of Wednesday night, the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan have risen to 16,433, while the death toll from the pneumonia-causing virus stands at 797.

However, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto yesterday denounced claims that the IOC will have the Olympic Games cancelled if it cannot be held in 2021.

Asked if the Games could be held behind closed doors, Muto said, “We have more than one year until the Games, it is too early to have such discussion.”

“We need to carry out measures to fight COVID-19,” he said.