IOC's Bach: Summer 2021 is last-chance saloon for Tokyo Olympics
The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, has said that if the rearranged Tokyo Olympic Games cannot be held next summer as currently planned, then a total cancellation would be understandable.
The 2020 Olympics were postponed for 12 months in March, due to the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, and are now set to take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021.
Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has told the IOC that the event will not be held next year unless the virus is to a large degree under control and Bach has now told the BBC: “Quite frankly, I have some understanding for this position, because you can’t forever employ 3,000 or 5,000 people in an organising committee.”
He added that the games would be scrapped if they could not be held in 2021 because “you can’t every year change the entire worldwide sports schedule of all the major federations. You can’t have the athletes being in uncertainty.
“You cannot have so much overlapping with a future Olympic Games, so I have some understanding for this approach by our Japanese partners.”
Abe had previously said that in terms of hosting the games, next summer represented “the last option”.
The virus has so far infected over 17,000 people in Japan, leading to around 800 deaths.
Bach also said that the prospect of the Tokyo Olympics taking place behind closed doors “is not what we want… I would ask you to give me some more time for consultation… with the World Health Organisation, with the Japanese partners.
“When we have a clear view on how the world will look on 23 July 2021, then we will take the appropriate decisions.”
Earlier this week, the IOC announced a new cooperation agreement with WHO.
The IOC’s president confirmed that there would be cutbacks to the Tokyo games, and said: “They will definitely be different, and they have to be different. If we all have learned something during this crisis, it is to look to the essentials…
“So this concentration on the essentials should be reflected in the organisation of the games.”
Last week, the IOC for the first time outlined the costs it will bear for the one year postponement of the Tokyo games, announcing a bill of up to $800 million.
Some $650 million will go towards the organisation of the games next year, and $150 million to support international federations and national Olympic committees.
The figure unveiled by the IOC does not include any costs incurred by the Tokyo 2020 organisers and the Japanese government.
Reports in Japan have estimated the delay as adding around $2.8 billion to the games’ original budget of $12.6 billion.
Meanwhile, the Association of National Olympic Committees has said it will provide extra funding to all NOCs to support them in their preparations for the rearranged games.
The funds have been made available following a meeting of the ANOC hierarchy, and will be released “on a case-by-case basis depending on needs”, according to a statement.
They will be distributed through ANOCs five continental associations.
Robin Mitchell, the acting president of ANOC, said: “NOCs, like people and organisations around the world, are facing significant challenges and hardship… ANOC therefore has decided to provide additional funding to all 206 NOCs to better equip them to face these challenges, and ensure they can continue to prepare their athletes for Tokyo 2020.”
ANOC has also postponed its 2020 General Assembly, which would have taken place in Seoul, South Korea, at the end of November, to 2021.
The decision was taken jointly by ANOC and the Korean Sports and Olympic Committee.
Mitchell said: “We believe that given the current global circumstances, it is the right decision to take. We will continue to work closely with the KSOC, and look forward to welcoming the world’s NOCs to Seoul in 2021.”