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For John Coates of the IOC, the Tokyo Olympics will be held “with or without” the Covid-19 

The vice-president of the International Olympic Committee affirmed to AFP that the Olympics will be held well in the Japanese capital next summer.

The Tokyo Olympics, postponed to 2021, will take place next year and will be those who “defeated the Covid”, assured Monday John Coates, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In a telephone interview with AFP on Monday, the president of the IOC’s coordination committee for the 2020 Olympics affirmed that the Games will take place “with or without” coronavirus and “will begin on July 23 of next year”. The theme of the Olympics will be “reconstruction after the devastation caused by the tsunami,” said John Coates, referring to the earthquake and tidal wave that devastated northeastern Japan in 2011.

Japan keeps its borders closed for now

The Games have so far only been canceled in times of world war. They were initially scheduled to be inaugurated on July 24, but organizers made the historic decision in March to postpone them until the summer of 2021, as the Covid-19 pandemic progressed around the world. The Japanese authorities, as well as 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 new coronavirus.

Mr. Coates assured that the Japanese government “has not given up at all” following this postponement, despite the “immense task” that this represents. “Before the 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, all is well », He underlined. He explained in particular that it was necessary to renegotiate the contracts concluded 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 examine how border controls will affect the movement of athletes and officials.

“In some countries, the situation (related to coronavirus) will be under control, in others not. So we will have athletes coming from places where it is under control and others where it is not. “

John coates

“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 authorized 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 engaged: “there is therefore an immense task which is carried out on the Japanese side.”

Japan has already invested heavily in these Olympic Games, whose initial budget was 11.5 billion euros, and this unprecedented delay only increases their cost. Mr. Coates revealed that the IOC had also contributed to this effort, by injecting “some 800 million additional dollars to support the international federations, whose revenues will be cut this year, and the national Olympic committees.” While uncertainty remains over whether the event will be held next year, the ceremonial flame for the 2020 Games is currently on display in a museum in Tokyo. And a set of giant Olympic rings, weighing 69 tons and measuring 15 by 32 meters, has been towed for maintenance, before it could possibly be used in ten months.

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