IOC President Thomas Bach sounded an optimistic note on Thursday about holding the Tokyo Olympics next year, taking heart from the recent resumption of major sports events and progress in COVID-19 vaccine development.
“We can see that sport is coming back slowly but surely …. which shows to us, shows to the world that we can organise safe sports events even without a vaccine,” Bach told a meeting of IOC representatives and Japanese officials and organisers.
The Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for this summer, were postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus has maintained its global spread in recent months, casting a shadow over the viability of the postponed Games but Bach was optimistic about efforts to fight it.
“We also have very encouraging news about the development of vaccines,” he said.
Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga spoke by telephone on Wednesday and agreed to cooperate closely to stage a safe and secure Games for athletes and spectators.
“We are sitting together in one boat. The only thing we have to do now is to row in the same direction,” Bach told the meeting, in which Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto and other officials participated.
Bach acknowledged on Thursday that uncertainty over the pandemic has engulfed the international community and he insisted that the IOC and Tokyo organisers won’t be rushed to decisions on how to stage the Games.
“At this moment in time, governments all over the world cannot even tell you what you will be allow to do or not to do tomorrow or next week or where you can travel next weekend,” he said.
“Nobody can expect from us that we know already exactly what needs to be done in 10 months from now to ensure a safe environment for everybody.”
However, Bach was still optimistic overall about the holding of the delayed Games next summer, saying at the end of his speech: “We will make it a success. We will make it a success together.”
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