BY PROF DR IAN BLACKSHAW
Despite media reports to the contrary, following a meeting of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the President of the IOC, Dr Thomas Bach, confirmed the holding of the postponed 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo this summer.
He informed the media as follows:
“We are fully concentrated on and committed to the successful and safe delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, starting on 23 July with the Olympic Games and 24 August with the Paralympic Games.”
And continued as follows:
“In the last couple of days, we had consultation calls with the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees, also getting reports from the athletes’ representatives. We could there today, again, that all of them are united and committed; all 206 National Olympic Committees, all of the International Federations and the athletes are standing behind these Olympic Games. We see the same commitment on the Japanese side with the Japanese government, the Organising Committee and the Japanese Olympic Committee.
The organisation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as such, is already an extremely complex challenge. But this complexity is multiplied when it comes to organising postponed Olympic Games for the first time ever, and this under the conditions of a pandemic. So, there is no blue print for this, and we are learning every day.
This fight against the virus …… is a tough one. But we are fighting this fight for, and like, Olympic athletes. This means with full determination, with a will to win, with hard work every day, and with all the physical and mental strength we have.
….[T]here is speculation about cancellation [and] there are some proposals to move it to another city.
We are not losing our time and energy on speculation. We are fully concentrating on the Opening Ceremony on 23 July this year. We are not speculating on whether the Games are taking place. We are working on how the Games will take place.”
This statement by the IOC President comes at a time when a large majority of Japanese would wish to have the Games postponed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of some 11,000 foreign athletes, who will be competing, but without any fans.
Also, some commentators have remarked that the Games will be a logistical nightmare.
Let us see, therefore, whether against all the odds, the IOC can pull off a safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo this summer!