Tokyo Games likely before 2021 summer

IOC prez Bach says in changed circumstances, Olympics will have to change

Tokyo Games likely before 2021 summer

Miraitowa and Someity, mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo. AP/PTI

Athens, March 25

The head of the global Olympic movement said the rescheduled Tokyo Games faced “thousands” of logistical and financial problems but could go ahead before summer 2021. Though most people have assumed the Games will be held around roughly the same July-August timetable as they were planned for this year, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said earlier dates in 2021 were possible.

“The agreement is that we want to organise these Games at the latest in the summer 2021,” he told a conference call. “This is not restricted just to the summer months. All the options are on the table including summer 2021,” he said.

Thousands of questions

"We want this Olympic flame to be the light at the end of the tunnel and so we will undertake this extremely challenging task of postponing the Games and of organising a postponed Games which has never happened before... You can be sure that you can make your Olympic dream come true... These Olympic Games could then finally be a celebration of humanity after having overcome this unprecedented crisis of the coronavirus." — Thomas Bach, IOC president

The Tokyo Olympics was the last major international sporting event of 2020 to be cancelled, with many questioning why a seemingly inevitable decision took so long to make as the coronavirus epidemic raged around the world.

Bach said he could not guarantee all elements of the Games would remain as initially planned. For example, he did not know what would happen with the athletes’ village, where apartments were set to be sold after the Games this year. “This is one of the many thousands of questions this task force will have to address. We hope and we will do whatever we can so that there is an Olympic village, the village is where the heart of the Games beat,” he said.

‘Wonderful Games’

“Our mission is to organise Games and make dreams of athletes come true,” he added. “We have no blueprint but we are confident we can put a beautiful jigsaw puzzle together and in the end have wonderful Olympic Games,” he said.

Bach, a 66-year-old German lawyer and former Olympics fencing champion, also said outright cancellation was discussed, even though the IOC had long insisted that was not an option. “Of course cancellation was discussed and considered like all options on the table, but it was very clear from the beginning that cancellation should not be something the IOC would in any way favour,” Bach said.

Asked by a German reporter whether he considered resigning over his organisation’s handling of the issue, Bach said: “No”. “In talks with athletes’ representatives and national Olympic committees last week, no one opposed the IOC’s stance,” he added.

Global pressure

After repeatedly insisting the Games were on as scheduled, the IOC at the weekend announced a month of consultations over possible postponement, before seemingly bowing to global pressure for a faster judgement. The body is due to start talks on Thursday with other global sporting bodies as moving the gigantic Olympics event has a knock-on effect for many other competitions. “We are in an unprecedented situation. I guess these postponed Olympic Games will need sacrifices, will need compromises by all stakeholders,” he added. — Reuters


1st Postponement in the Olympics’ 124-year history due to risks from the coronavirus impact

12 Billion dollars investment in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The cost is likely to rise further with a massive headache to reorganise logistics, funding and sponsorship

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