The Tokyo Olympics will be held “with or without” COVID-19, according to John Coates of the IOC

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Sydney | The Tokyo Olympics, postponed to 2021, will take place next year and will be the ones that “beat COVID,” John Coates, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Monday.

In a telephone interview with AFP on Monday, the chairman of the IOC’s coordination committee for the Olympic Games-2020, said that the Tokyo Games will take place “with or without” coronavirus and “will begin on July 23 of the next year”.

“It will be the Games that defeated COVID, the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

The theme of the Olympics will be “reconstruction after the devastation caused by the tsunami,” Coates said, referring to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan in 2011.

The Games have so far only been canceled in times of war.

They were originally slated to be unveiled on July 24, but organizers in March made the historic decision to postpone them until the summer of 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed around the world.

The Japanese authorities, like the IOC, have made it clear that they do not want them to be postponed a second time.

Japan’s borders currently remain largely closed to visitors, and many experts doubt the pandemic will be under control by next summer.

According to several recent polls, a clear majority of Japanese want the Olympics to be postponed again, or their cancellation, due to the coronavirus.

Mr. Coates assured that the Japanese government “has not given up at all” following this postponement, despite the “immense task” that this represents.

“Gigantic task”

“Before COVID, (IOC President) Thomas Bach said it was the best-prepared Games we have ever seen, the venues were almost all finished, they are now finished, the village is amazing, (.. .) everything is fine, ”he said.

“They were postponed for a year, which represents a gigantic task in terms of securing all the sites”, affirmed the president of the IOC coordination committee for these Olympics.

He explained in particular that it was necessary to renegotiate the contracts signed with the partners and the hotels while the commitments of the sponsors had to be extended by one year as well as the broadcasting rights.

“With much of this work in progress, or already completed, a working group has been set up to look at the different possible scenarios for 2021,” Coates said.

In particular, it will have to look at how border controls will affect the movement of athletes and officials.

“In some countries, the situation (linked to the coronavirus) will be under control, in others not. We will therefore have athletes coming from places where it is under control and others where it is not, ”he said.

The question of the number of spectators allowed to attend the Olympic events as well as the opening and closing ceremonies is also being studied.

This group, made up of Japanese officials and IOC members, met for the first time last week.

“Their task now is to consider any countermeasures that will be necessary for the Games to take place,” said Coates, longtime president of the Australian Olympic Committee.

He recalled that 206 teams are involved: “there is therefore an immense task which is carried out on the Japanese side.”

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