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Thomas Bach said he agreed with Japan that the Olympics cannot be postponed beyond next year Photo: AFP
2020 tokyo olympics

Bach says no Olympic postponement beyond 2021


Olympics chief Thomas Bach agreed that 2021 was the "last option" for holding the delayed Tokyo Games on Thursday, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.

Bach said he backed Japan's stance that the Games will have to be cancelled if the coronavirus pandemic isn't under control by next year.

In March, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed to July 23, 2021 over the coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands around the world and halted international sport and travel.

"Quite frankly, I have some understanding for (Japan's position) because you cannot forever employ 3,000, or 5,000, people in an organizing committee," Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, told the BBC.

"You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide for all the major federations. You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty, you cannot have so much overlapping with a future Olympic Games."

The IOC leader said it was a "mammoth task" to reorganize the Olympics, which have never been cancelled outside of the world wars.

However, Japanese officials have been clear that they have no intention of postponing the Games again beyond next year.

Bach warned that "nobody knows" how the situation will play out, but said the IOC will act on advice from the World Health Organization.

"We have established one principle, and this is to organize these Games in a safe environment for all the participants," he said. "Nobody knows what the world will look like in one year and two months from today, so we have to rely on the experts."

Bach wouldn't say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them without fans.

"This is not what we want," he said. "Because the Olympic spirit is about also uniting the fans and this is what makes the Games so unique that they're in an Olympic stadium, all the fans from all over the world are together.

"But when it then would come to the decision... I would ask you to give me some more time for consultation with the athletes, with the World Health Organisation, with the Japanese partners."

The IOC has already set aside $800 million to help organizers and sports federations meet the extra costs of a postponed Olympics.

According to the latest budget, the Games were due to cost $12.6 billion, shared between the organizing committee, the government of Japan and Tokyo city.

But Bach said there should be "no taboo" in cutting costs for next year's Games.

"They will definitely be different, and they have to be different," he said. "If we all have learned something during this crisis, (it is) to look to the essentials and not so much on the nice-to-have things.

"So this concentration on the essentials should be reflected in the organisation of these Games... there should be no taboo."

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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This PR speak for .. they're cancelled.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bach may well mean it, but I can assure you the JOC does not. When push comes to shove, and they are called on their bluff, they'll start back-tracking and talking about postponement again as a preference to complete cancellation. I know heaps of people that do this: "This is the only time it can't be done. If you don't agree to doing it then, then we won't do it." When you say, "Well, I guess that's too bad, then," they suddenly say, "Well, wait a minute... maybe we can do it another time after all." This poorly veiled threat will fall flat once there is a chance it won't work.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maybe as a face-saving move the IOC could toss Japan a few crumbs and agree to sanction a scaled-down games consisting only of track & field events.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How about a Tokyo Olympics with only fans from Japan?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

NICS Reruns: The problem isn't just giving Tokyo something out of pity, it's that all the advertisers will be gone, for starters (most important thing to them), which means pure out-of-pocket costs for host and the IOC, but also, who would go, even if they're allowed? They could agree to hold something, but with maybe one or two landlocked African countries Japan paid to come, it could hardly be called a "world" event.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

borscht..... Fans only from the host nation? That is pretty much what happens at every olympics ever. Soccer fans travel, Rugby even cricket.... There are no athletics fans, canoe fans, small bore pistol fans....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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