Tokyo Olympics will go ahead no matter what, insists games chief

·3-min read
<p>A security guard near one of the venues for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics </p> (REUTERS)

A security guard near one of the venues for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics

(REUTERS)

An International Olympic Committee chief has promised the Tokyo games will still proceed even if the city remains in a state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pledge from John Coates comes just days after an organisation representing 6,000 doctors in the Japanese capital called for the Olympics to be cancelled warning that hospitals were already overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.

Tokyo is one of nine regions in the country which is in a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic until May 31 at the earliest.

Despite this, the chair of the games’ co-ordination commission, John Coates, expressed confidence that even if measures are not lifted by the time the Games are due to open it will not affect the event being staged.

The rescheduled Olympics - which will retain the “Tokyo 2020” name - has now been scheduled for July 23 to August 8.

“We’ve successfully seen five sports hold their test events during the state of emergency,” he said at a Tokyo 2020 briefing on Friday.

“All of the plans that we have in place to protect the safety and security of athletes and the people of Japan are based around the worst possible circumstances, so the answer (to whether a Games could take place during a state of emergency) is absolutely yes,” he added.

Mr Coates went on to say: “The advice we have got from the World Health Organisation and all of the scientific advice is that all the measures we have outlined in the playbook, all those measures are satisfactory to ensure a safe and secure Games in terms of health, and that’s whether there is a state of emergency or not.”

He was also asked about a series of negative opinion polls among Japanese residents, many of whom are still calling for the Games to be cancelled amid the global health crisis.

“There may well be a correlation between some of these percentages and the low percentages so far of people in Japan who have been vaccinated,” the Australian said.

“I’m expecting that as the number of vaccinations increase that there will be better polls and public opinion will improve, but if it doesn’t we just have to make sure that we get on with our job and our job is make sure these Games are safe for all participants and all of the people of Japan.”

The final co-ordination commission ended on Friday, and Coates said: “After nearly eight years (of planning) the finish line is within touching distance.

“This is testament to the work of the Tokyo 2020 organisers and the incredible support of the Japanese government.”

The government has called on Games organisers to further reduce the number of overseas visitors to Japan, insisting that only those essential to the operation of the event come into the country.

Overseas spectators have already been barred, and a decision on how many – if any – Japanese fans can attend will be taken next month.

The IOC is confident that over 80 per cent of residents at the Olympic Village will have been vaccinated by the time they arrive in Japan, but Coates insisted the plans for daily testing of athletes would remain in place regardless of the vaccination programme.

Athletes and other participants must all abide by the ‘playbooks’ which govern almost every aspect of their lives while in Tokyo for the Games.

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