Tokyo Games will go ahead ‘with or without Covid’ – IOC

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Tokyo’s postponed Olympics will go ahead next year regardless of the coronavirus pandemic, IOC vice president John Coates said yesterday, vowing they will be the “Games that conquered Covid”.

The Olympics have never been cancelled outside of the world wars and Coates, speaking in a phone interview, was adamant that the Tokyo Games will start on their revised date.

“It will take place with or without Covid. The Games will start on July 23 next year,” said Coates, who heads the International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Games.

In a landmark decision, the 2020 Olympics were postponed because of the global march of the pandemic and they are now set to open on July 23, 2021.

But Japan’s borders are still largely closed to foreign visitors and a vaccine is months or even years away, feeding speculation about whether the Games are feasible at all.

Japanese officials have made clear they would not delay them a second time beyond 2021.

Coates said the Japanese government “haven’t dropped the baton at all” following the postponement, despite the “monumental task” of putting the event back a year.

With much of that work underway, or accomplished, a task force has been set up to look at the different scenarios in 2021 — from how border controls will affect the movement of athletes, to whether fans can pack venues and how to keep stadiums safe.

The group, comprising Japanese and IOC officials, met for the first time last week.*AFP

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