The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today reiterated the holding of the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games, postponed this summer, and asked for “patience and understanding” as to the conditions in which it will take place due to the covid-19 pandemic.
"We are fully focused and committed to the safe and successful hosting of the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games, starting on July 23, and starting on August 24, the Paralympic Games," said IOC President Thomas Bach at a conference online press after the telematic meeting of the organisation's Executive Committee.
Bach explained that he has been meeting with international federations of various sports, national Olympic committees, representatives of athletes, all “united and committed and defending Tokyo2020”, something that “also happens” with the Government of Japan and the Organizing Committee.
“Patience and understanding” were terms used several times during the session by the Olympic leader, who explained that it is “impossible to predict the pandemic situation in the 206 countries” with national committees six months from now, which “leads to a lot of speculation”.
The leader adds that "all this speculation hurts athletes, who already have many obstacles to face, with the restrictions and the health situation" caused by the pandemic of covid-19.
Taking into account the "complexity" of organizing some Games in this context, and being "fighting for all athletes and as Olympic athletes" for its realization, the IOC does not want to "waste time on speculation".
"We are not speculating on whether the Games will take place, we are working on how they will take place," he shot.
This means considering measures that can prevent or minimize contagion due to the new coronavirus, with a first manual on how to process the Games and the logistics involved for participants to be published in early February.
Thomas Bach also cited the “more than seven thousand sporting events” that took place during the winter season on a global scale, revealing that, of the numbers made available by international federations, the more than one hundred thousand tests carried out brought “only 1.8% positive ”.
“We can conclude that it is too early to say which measures will be appropriate when we arrive at the Games. We have to ask for patience and understanding, and we ask this from the athletes, the national committees, the Japanese people, everyone. We have to be patient and be diligent ”, he reinforced.
Regarding the possible vaccination of athletes and other national teams, Bach wanted to make it clear that the IOC defends that “it is not favorable for athletes to go ahead in the lines”, putting health professionals, priority workers and people at risk ahead.
“Each government decides who has access to the vaccine in their respective countries. We ask the national committees to contact the Governments to discuss the appropriate time to give athletes access to vaccination, respecting the priorities ”, he explained.
The objective is "to organize the Games, not to cancel them", so he did not answer a question from a Japanese journalist about the criteria for a possible cancellation, saying that he does not want to "destroy any athlete's Olympic dream" and intends to " keep fighting the virus ”.
"Please accept and understand that patience is needed," he insisted.
Asked about the polls that indicate a public opinion unfavorable to the event in Japan, and news that speculate about a cancellation soon, Thomas Bach said he empathized with the concerns.
“I understand who has doubts about the Games, when they are confined, without knowing if they can go to a restaurant or see the family. Under these circumstances, it is extremely difficult to imagine games. But the responsibility of the Government and the IOC is to look beyond this situation ”, he shot.
He also declined to "guarantee" the presence of the public, because "the priority is safe Games", and reiterated the measures already announced and considered, such as the reduction of athletes in the opening and closing ceremony and the reduction time spent in the Olympic Village.
The IOC's sporting director, Kit McConnell, also revealed that 61% of the athletes are already qualified for Tokyo2020, when they were 57% when the event was postponed for this year, and that number “is increasing”, with 15% of what still lack to be done by 'ranking'.
The IOC leader also spoke about Beijing2022, praising the "excellent technical preparations" and the "very tight measures" to control the pandemic taken by the Chinese Government, which will allow "participating in the test events" for the Winter Games in February not next.