The postponed Tokyo Olympics will take place next year “with or without Covid,” said the vice president of the International Olympic Committee.
John Coates confirmed to the AFP news agency that the Olympics will begin on July 23 next year, calling them the “Games that conquered Covid”.
They were originally scheduled to start in July 2020, but were postponed due to fears of Covid-19.
The IOC had said earlier that it would not delay the Games beyond 2021.
“The Games were going to be their theme, the Games of reconstruction after the devastation of the tsunami,” Coates told AFP, referring to the catastrophic 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
“Now it will be the Games that conquered Covid, the light at the end of the tunnel. ”
In July, Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said it was possible for the Games to be held to a “limited” audience, but said he wanted to avoid the possibility of having no spectators at all.
- Tokyo 2020 could have “limited viewers”
Instead, he added that the Games could potentially “simplify” its opening and closing ceremonies, as well as reduce the number of staff and delegations from each country.
More than 11,000 athletes from around 200 countries were scheduled to take part in the 2020 Games. The impact of travel restrictions on their participation is unclear, as Japan’s borders are currently largely closed to foreign visitors.
Mr Muto also said that a vaccine was not a prerequisite for the Games, although health experts questioned whether the Games could be held without a vaccine.
“If a vaccine is ready it will be an advantage, but we’re not saying we can’t run the event without it – it’s not a prerequisite,” he said.
In April, Games Chief Yoshiro Mori said the Tokyo Games would have to be canceled if they did not take place in 2021.
- Bach “would understand the cancellation of Tokyo”
Explaining the decision, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “You cannot forever employ 3,000 to 5,000 people in an organizing committee. You cannot change the entire world sports calendar of all the major federations every year. ”
Before the pandemic, the Games had only been canceled because of the war, but never postponed.