LAUSANNE (AFP) – Olympic chief Thomas Bach called on Wednesday (Jan 27) for “patience” over the Tokyo Games, the holding of which this summer are in continued doubt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We just have to ask for patience and understanding, is the main message,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said after a meeting of the body’s executive board.
“I think it is too early to decide anything else,” he added.
The Tokyo Games were originally to have taken place last year but were postponed in the face of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, becoming the first Olympics in peacetime to suffer that fate.
The IOC and the Japanese organisers rescheduled the Games for July 23 to Aug 8 this year.
But several media reports have claimed that the Games cannot go ahead, something an exasperated Bach was quick to play down.
“We’re not losing time or energy on speculation… about whether the Games are taking place,” the IOC president said.
“We’re working on how the Games will take place.
“Our task is to organise Olympic Games, not to cancel Olympic Games… and that is why we will not add fuel to this speculation.”
After the last executive board meeting, the IOC released a statement on Dec 12, the same day the Pfizer vaccine was approved in the United States, expressing its “full commitment” to staging the Games.
Since then, the emergence of more infectious strains has sparked debate on whether the Games can take place and whether it is morally justifiable that competitors be prioritised for vaccination.
“We always have made it clear that we are not in favour of athletes jumping the queue,” Bach stressed.
The German added that the complexity of holding an Olympic Games had been multiplied because of coronavirus.
“There is no blueprint, we’re learning every day,” Bach said, adding that he understood how people living under lockdown and perhaps unable to even visit a restaurant because of Covid-19 restrictions found it hard to envisage the Games going ahead.
“The responsibility of the (Japanese) government and the IOC is to look beyond this situation.”
Bach also announced the release of the first version of a “playbook” explaining the “many measures we can imagine to be applied in July and August in Tokyo”.
The document, he said, was “a huge undertaking under daily review” and covered essential issues such as immigration, potential quarantines, transportation in Tokyo, living in the Olympic Village and social distancing.
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