If the Tokyo Olympics Can’t Be Held Next Summer, They’ll Have to Be Cancelled, Says IOC President

If the Tokyo Olympics don’t take place in summer 2021, they won’t happen at all, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said in an interview with BBC yesterday.

“You cannot forever employ 3,000 to 5,000 people in an organizing committee,” Bach said. “You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty.”

After months of speculation concerning the fate of the 2020 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government reached an agreement in late March to cancel this summer’s event and reschedule it for “a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”

The Tokyo Olympics are now scheduled to be held from July 23 to Aug. 8 of 2021. Yoshiro Mori, chief of the Games, had previously stated that if the new dates don’t work, the event will be “scrapped” rather than moved again. But health experts have said it will be difficult to hold an Olympic Games next year without a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Bach said the IOC is relying on the advice of the World Health Organization and aims to “organize these Games in a safe environment for all the participants.”  He noted that IOC is considering options to safeguard against the virus including quarantining some or all athletes.

Across the globe, the coronavirus has caused a number of high-profile sports events to be scrapped and forced numerous sports leagues to adjust scheduling or cancel their seasons. For instance, in the U.S, the NBA, NHL and MLB have all pushed their seasons back, while numerous events — such as Wimbledon and the PGA Championship — have either been postponed or cancelled.

As of Thursday, coronavirus cases worldwide have topped 5 million, according to Johns Hopkins data, with over 329,000 dead. In Japan, there have been more than 16,000 confirmed instances of the virus along with 771 fatalities.

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