The 2021 Olympics will proceed as scheduled 'with or without Covid,' according to the Vice President of the International Olympic Committee, adding that the competition in Japan would be the "Games that conquered Covid."
"It will take place with or without Covid. The Games will start on July 23 next year," said John Coates, head of the IOC's Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Games, according to the Daily Mail.
"The Games were going to be the Reconstruction Games after the devastation of the tsunami," Coates added, referring to the 2011 Fukushima disaster. "Now very much these will be the Games that conquered Covid, the light at the end of the tunnel."
Originally scheduled to take place in 2020, the Olympics was postponed due to the pandemic, and are now scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021 - just over ten months from now, despite the fact that Japan's borders are still largely closed to foreign visitors, and a vaccine is nowhere in sight. That said, Japanese officials have made clear, according to the Mail, that they won't delay the event a second time beyond 2021.
There are signs that public enthusiasm in Japan is waning after a recent poll found just one in four Japanese want them to go ahead next year, with most backing either another postponement or a cancellation.
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. -Daily Mail
"Before Covid, (IOC president) Thomas Bach said this is the best prepared Games we've ever seen, the venues were almost all finished, they are now finished, the village is amazing, all the transport arrangements, everything is fine," Coates added. "Now it's been postponed by one year, that's presented a monumental task in terms of re-securing all the venues... something like 43 hotels we had to get out of those contracts and re-negotiate for a year later."
"Sponsorships had to be extended a year, broadcast rights."
In order to pull off the games amid the pandemic, a task force has been assembled to assess everything from how border controls will affect athlete movements, to whether fans will be able to pack stadiums (as tight as a BLM rally?).
IOC officials met with Japanese officials for the first time last week to discuss.
"Their job now is to look at all the different counter-measures that will be required for the Games to take place," said Coates - who has served as the president of the Australian Olympic Committee since 1990 after becoming an executive in 1982.
"Some countries will have it (Covid) under control, some won't. We'll have athletes therefore coming from places where it's under control and some where it is not," he added. "There's 206 teams... so there's a massive task being undertaken on the Japanese side."
Tokyo 2020 chief Toshiro Muto on Friday repeated that organisers hoped to avoid a Games without spectators -- an option that has been mooted given Japan is still limiting audiences at sports events.
While the country is cautiously reopening its economy, with professional baseball, football and sumo resuming in front of limited numbers of fans, the nation continues to see a steady stream of new coronavirus cases.
Japan has already ploughed billions of dollars into the Olympics, with the delay only adding to the cost. -Daily Mail
According to Coates, the IOC is doing its part - contributing "something like an extra $800 million to support the international federations, whose income isn't happening this year, and national Olympic Committees."