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2020 tokyo olympics

IOC chief rebuts growing calls for Olympic postponement

64 Comments

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Saturday rebutted growing calls from athletes and officials around the globe for postponing this summer's Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus outbreak, saying it will not be easy to take such a major action.

"You can't postpone the Olympic Games like a football match next Saturday," Bach was quoted by German news agency dpa as telling SWR radio, as national Olympic committees and major federations from the United States have begun requesting the IOC postpone the Tokyo Games, perhaps for a year.

Bach has been insisting that the IOC's focus was solely on holding a "safe" Olympics on schedule. But now, he has begun defending his position. Dpa reported Bach as saying any decision requires reliable and clear information.

Earlier Saturday, the Brazil Olympic Committee called for the Tokyo Games to be postponed for a year, citing "the notorious worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic" and "the consequent difficulty for athletes to maintain their best competitive level."

Similarly, the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee said Friday it has asked the IOC not to hold the games until the pneumonia-causing virus is under control, especially when a total of about 234,000 people have been infected worldwide.

USA Swimming and USA Track and Field, the U.S. swimming and athletics federations have both added their voices to the growing calls for postponement.

In a letter sent to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland, USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey said, "Everyone has experienced unimaginable disruptions, mere months before the Olympic Games, which calls into question the authenticity of a level playing field for all," according to the Associated Press reported.

"Our athletes are under tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness should be among the highest priorities," Hinchey wrote.

Nic Coward, head of UK Athletics, filed a similar request as well, according to BBC Sport.

The Tokyo Olympics are set to be held from July 24 to Aug 9, followed by the Paralympics from Aug 25 to Sept 6. The IOC, the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee and the Japanese government have maintained they plan to hold the games as scheduled.

In response to the request from Norway's committee, Toshiaki Endo, a vice president of the Tokyo Games organizing committee, said, "The organizing committee is not at the point where we need a decision on whether to cancel or postpone the games."

"The IOC will make the final decision. We will prepare thoroughly for the games' opening in July," Endo said.

However, sports organizations in Japan indicated they would tolerate a postponement if the virus made it impossible for the Tokyo Games to take place as scheduled.

"We would very much like the games to be held (as scheduled). But we would have no choice but to accept it if they were to be postponed," said Yoshihito Nagahata, an executive member of the Japan Rowing Association.

The All Japan Archery Federation said it will discuss responses in the event the games are postponed.

The virus pandemic has caused disruptions to the sports calendar, causing a series of suspensions of Olympic qualifications and test events due to concern about risking the health of athletes and spectators.

The IOC said earlier that only about 57 percent of athletes have qualified.

While maintaining its position that it is still too early to decide whether to postpone the Olympics, Bach acknowledged Thursday in an interview with The New York Times that the IOC is "considering different scenarios" for the Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The International Paralympic Committee said Thursday it planned to proceed with the Tokyo Paralympic Games as scheduled, while acknowledging the difficulties many athletes face as a result of the health crisis.

Washington Post editorial

Holding the Tokyo Olympics on schedule as the local organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee advocate is "irresponsible," The Washington Post's editorial board wrote in a column released Friday.

In an editorial titled, "The Olympics must be canceled or postponed," the Post said the pursuit of an on-schedule July 24 start of the games during the current coronavirus pandemic has inspired some "magical thinking" by the IOC and the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The opinion piece said the "Summer Games have all the makings of an incubator for the coronavirus that will lead to its further deadly spread."

It quoted Stanford University infectious-disease specialist Yvonne Maldonado as warning, "You bring a lot of people together, and then you ship them back all over the world. That's the perfect way to transmit."

The Post attributed the IOC and Japan's entrenched stance of no postponement or cancellation to money and prestige. Abe, the editorial argues, has made the games a point of national pride, while Japan has spent heavily on the event, and the IOC is "banking on billions of dollars in broadcast rights."

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64 Comments
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better for all to delay 1 - 2 years.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

"You can't postpone the Olympic Games like a football match next Saturday," Bach was quoted by German news agency dpa as telling SWR radio, as national Olympic committees and major federations from the United States have begun requesting the IOC postpone the Tokyo Games, perhaps for a year.

The only logical, possible reason that Bach keeps making these comments is due to his metal capacity being seriously impeded by the fact that he has the virus and can't think straight. Everyone else can see this would be foolish to pretend that the Olympics will be fine to start in July 2020. How much longer will this nonsense need to continue before they pull the plug?

17 ( +17 / -0 )

The IOC best figure out it will only take one person (athlete, official, supporter, even ticket holder) to die for criminal charges to be filed.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

All about the money for these corrupt IOC

16 ( +18 / -2 )

To win the war against the virus is one thing, to successfully run the Olympics is another, even without the pandemic. Abe has won the first battle, if he can keep the low infection numbers, doesn't have to be zero, and impossible for negative.

I recommend Abe to invite all athletes to Japan for formal training, by the end of this month. We have three months to show that virus causes no major concerns. As long as virus doesn't have significant impact on the performance of the athletes, then the game is fine.

Remember, never expect zero case even for athletes, as flu and diarrhea do happen every day to everyone.

-26 ( +1 / -27 )

just let them get on with it and hold the games - and no-one go.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

ifd66 said "just let them get on with it and hold the games - and no-one go."

That is something that Abe has no control.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

> It quoted Stanford University infectious-disease specialist Yvonne Maldonado as warning, "You bring a lot of people together, and then you ship them back all over the world. That's the perfect way to transmit.

It won’t matter if Japan has zero cases even before the Olympics.

Cases won’t have peaked in other countries and those visitors will be bringing viral infections to Japan, to enclosed gatherings and it will start all over again.

Bach needs to be briefed on pandemics.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

kurisupisu, you are absolutely correct. By the way, are an expert on this ?

This is indeed an international effort. Good news is that northeast asia had already started coordination on this. Anyone go through China and Korea has to be temperature screened before on board. In addition to this, anyone should be screened before leaving their own country, as if they are terrorists. It is serious matter.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

What will he do if every country boycotts the Olympics? Bach, just postpone it and work out the problems. It's what you get paid millions to do.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

"You can't postpone the Olympic Games like a football match next Saturday,"

Sure. Does Bach think we are as stupid as he is, putting greed over brains?

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Both Bach and Abe are living on a alternative planet from the one I'm on...

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Many countries will boycott the Olympics if they go ahead. There are already many athletic groups calling for the games to be postponed. It's going to be a disaster if they go ahead with it. There'll be very few countries participating and no spectators. Postponing the games is the logical choice.

I think the IOC feels a bit sorry for Japan coz of their investment and want to run the games regardless, but there will be no returns for Japan of they go ahead.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

@Akie - How did Abe win the battle against the virus when the infection rate is still rising despite the miserably low number of tests? You want to bring all the athletes to Japan and let them train here knowing that it's possible for someone to be an asymptomatic carrier and could also transmit during their stay? Your comparison of this pandemic to the flu and diarrhea to be blunt, is quite asinine since medical experts have already warned us not to compare this with the flu; and I won't even begin to talk about your comparison to the runs.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

"You can't postpone the Olympic Games like a football match next Saturday,"

Ask UEFA how they did it for the Euro, you bleeping idiot. That was supposed to be an event involving 12 venues in 12 European countries, with a ton of logistics to consider for crowd movement and travels in order to get the event done. Is Bach even aware that, outside of the IOC headquarters, Switzerland is suffering badly with this outbreak as well? According to Johns Hopkins, there are 6,575 positive cases in Switzerland right now.

If the IOC maintains the Olympics, I hope they and the Abe government will be prepared for far bigger revenue losses than if the Olympics are postponed until a time when the crisis will be further behind us.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Postponement seems best for athletes. Even if Japan became under control, most athletes would not come to Tokyo Olympics.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Based on current models warmer outdoor temps and higher humidity could play a role in slowing the rate of transmission but indoor arenas are going to be climate stabilized so even with empty seats the virus is still going to be circulating. Doesn't seem like a level playing field for athletes that don't only come to compete but to compete at their absolute best, under the most ideal conditions the sporting world has to offer.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All about the money for these corrupt IOC

But the Japanese Olympic Committee is greed—free, right?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The US track and field committee has joined the US swimming committee in looking for a postponement.It's a wrap.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Seriously, this dumb old fool Bach needs to be ousted.

Shut down Tokyo 2020 NOW. Postpone them until a later date - perhaps 2021 or later - when this war is over.

If madman Bach forces them to go ahead, they will be the WORST olympics of all time.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

What a joke. Of course it will not go ahead as scheduled. Going to be a lot of uncertainty for all of the athletes even if it is postponed until this is over. They are the real victims after so many years of training to time their peak. But let’s also put that into perspective - people are losing their jobs, livelihoods and lives every day. Few are untouched by this. There is no point in being in denial. The only realistic solution is to delay by 12 months and hope by then that this crisis is over.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Either way, they’re going to lose a lot of money because a lot of people won’t come and there are more athletes not willing to take the risk, either way, Japan loses with the games this year, so let them proceed, I guess they need to see their selfish decision and the outcome end result for themselves.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I'll be talking to lawyers tomorrow to about feasibility of suing the IOC and Japanese Gov't should my kids contract CV-19. While the rest of the world is doing online distance classes using Zoom, Webex and other apps, Japan has its head buried in ancient sand refuses to get with the program.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

That Washington Post editorial is bang on. Abe and Bach are both pathological liars. Their arrogant refusal to face up to reality and cling to delusions of Olympic glory are pretty much guaranteeing that the Olympics fail anyway. The only chance Abe had to save them was by letting go and focusing on health first...He blew it because he is a sociopath, devoid of the requisite human qualities that doing so would have required. For a man up to his neck in corruption charges and shady backroom dealings, he is desperate to paint a picture of himself as something other than the mobster we all know he is....His mindset reminds me of that joke about the doctor who gave his patient six months to live....The patient couldn't pay his bill so the doc gave him another six months! Abe's inherent dishonesty and lack of integrity render him capable of making that kind of magical thinking into dangerous policy....I can almost hear him declaring, "We have no virus in Japan!" as opening day approaches!!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

How about postpone by 4 years? Just move the all the currently decided summer Olympic cities back by four years. All the infrastructure can still be used. The Tokyo Olympics are messed up anyway, but adjusting other cities’ Games would not be so difficult.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Its idiotic to still be debating this, there is no way the games can safely be held now even under the best case scenarios. Every minute we spend debating this is time the government is not spending on getting the virus under control, and worse yet it may be warping policy as the government has an incentive to downplay it, which is really dangerous.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Bach & Abe = Dumb & Dumber

”Stupid is as stupid does” - Forrest Gump

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This man is thick in the head. Clearly, he got in position not based on his brains but by who he knows. There is a pandemic, people are dying world wide and or lying in ICUS fighting for their lives and he wants to continue this over rated event at the lives of all who live in Japan like myself and the athletes, too. Why???? Money, is the root of all evil by Abe (the biggest idiot) who has no love for the people of this country who put a roof over his head with our taxes.

He is permitting amusement parks to open, sending our kids back to school and the list goes on giving false hope that this is over When it is far from over. The only upside is so many countries have slammed their doors shut, unlike Abe who is only shut them to China and s. korea and you watch he will open them back up this month, again, Idiot!!!!! Both men are, Idiots would love to call them more but they censor here.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Hold a spectacle during world war Z??? Rome is burning with bodies and smoke. Well past time to protect her most valuable asset- the people.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Maybe these can be the "Japanese only" Olympics. Seems to be ok to do that around the country.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I don’t really expect Bach to say otherwise. He has to support the host nation and respect all the investment and possible greater losses. He’ll toe this line as long as he possibly can. Let’s see how the crown develops over the next few weeks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ashley ShibaToday 09:45 am JST

This man is thick in the head. Clearly, he got in position not based on his brains but by who he knows.

Mr. Bach is very far from thick:

His CV is flawless. He was born in 1953 in Würzburg and was already a promising fencer at the age of five. He soon made it into the national team and, when he was 22, won the gold medal in the team competition in 1976. A year later, the team won the world championship. But, all along, Bach was always working on his post-fencing career. He studied law and took on the job as the athletes' spokesman at the 1981 Olympic congress.

Bach later worked for Adidas, learning the ropes of sport lobbying and building his network of contacts. He speaks English, French and Spanish and was supported by former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. Bach got voted into the IOC when he was just 37 years old. Not long after, he made it to the organization's executive committee. Finally, in 2000 he became Vice President of what is one of the world's most powerful sports bodies.

https://www.dw.com/en/lord-of-the-rings-new-ioc-chief-thomas-bach/a-16803589

Mr. Bach is a protege of the original lord of the rings, Juan Antonio Samaranch:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/shine-a-light/samaranch-kissinger-and-coca-cola-company-relentless-fascist-s-curious-da/

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

As I always said, an official decision should be taken in May, and the IOC should claim that.

The virus might come down by that time, but moreover, postponing 1 years means a lot of behind the scene decisions with organizers, national Olympics committees , sport federations. All this behind the scene talks are going on right now for sure but can not be said. This needs a few weeks to make sure that, in my opinion, a 1 year postponement can be done and is the best for everyone .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is getting beyond ridiculous.

Bach has shown homself to be an idiot with his stupid initial "oh I refuse to speculate" stance.

Now he is facing a tsunami of calls to cancel and is still digging his heels in.

He is only thinking about money. It's disgusting.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Bach is monomaniacal and obsessed with the Olympics as Captain Ahab is with Moby Dick.

This is out of Abe’s hands who is just following protocol.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A lot of optimism here that Japan will be in shape to even hold an Olympics that no one else can or would come to.

Meanwhile in the real world

Anyone else see the latest govt data that Osaka governor received to expect large increase in next two weeks with sudden shutdowns to follow?

Meanwhile 50,000 Lemmings queued for hours to jump over the cliff, I mean see the Olympic torch in Sendai.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As Alfie Noakes noted, Bach is certainly not thick; amoral perhaps, but not thick. You may not like him, but he is not an idiot.

As some other posters here have noted, there appears to be a game of chicken going on: which side is going to blink first and bow to the seemingly inevitable postponement or cancellation of the Olympics, with the understanding that whoever blinks first is likely going to be stuck with a huge bill. Bach would appear to be holding better cards than Abe at this point.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

BACH needs to stop balking and get his head on straight. No one in their right mind will participate. Everyone will boycott this event and not show up. It will be an empty stadium with no athletes. Give it up now. There's no point in continuing with this farce while the entire world is in peril.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There are a few small problems with postponing the games.....the main athlete village is actually a huge housing complex that has been sold to buyers to occupy after December. Building another one in less than a year isn’t going to happen. Changing the worlds sports calendar is going to be difficult. The olympics is a very minor event for many sports.. soccer, baseball, golf, tennis.... The governing bodies and team owners may not be willing to reschedule.

This could be a golden opportunity to drop the Paralympics as this is just a waste of money event organisers are forced to put on when bidding for the “real” show.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hey Alfie Noakes! No one gives a damn about his prior accomplishments. The fact is he is irresponsible for wanting to push this through. Human lives are at stake right now and he (Bach) should seriously be taking this into consideration by doing the right thing and either postponing or canceling this event.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

USA Track & Field calls for Tokyo Olympics postponement, joining USA Swimming - Invalid CSRF

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/03/21/usa-track-field-calls-tokyo-olympics-postponement-joining-usa-swimming/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bach would appear to be holding better cards than Abe at this point.

I wouldn't know about that. Abe only needs the EU or the USA to threaten pull its athletes and there goes a good chunk of the world's rich viewers. Japan may be a little country the IOC can bully, but the EU and the USA are not, and this is an obvious chance for all countries to right the IOC vs. country balance. The IOC's nightmare is an Olympics with meaningless gold medals no-one watches.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

US Track and Field have called for the Olympics to be postponed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@macv

I'll be talking to lawyers tomorrow to about feasibility of suing the IOC and Japanese Gov't should my kids contract CV-19

Can you share details of how things go on this? If the say it is feasible (I am thinking they'll balk), you should start a movement to get people in Japan to join in for a mass suit against the government, should they become infected.

However, tread carefully man. I wonder how far down the rabbit hole you are planning to go. You're potentially going to ruffle some very, very important feathers.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Bach is like King Canute, trying to hold back the tide. The difference is though that Canute knew what he was doing - demonstrating the inability of even a monarch to hold back an irresistible force of nature.

Bach on the other hand appears to genuinely believe that the tide can be turned back, if he just says it can for long enough.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Of Course he rebuffs the calls! The IOC would have to do all the work again but for no more money. If you want to get him to be honest about the situation, just ask him to sign an agreement that the IOC will shoulder all blame and costs for any infections resulting from the Olympics taking place, and the heads forced to quit without any pension.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Alfie Noakes, if this man has such a CV and he is as great you wish to believe why has he not halted the Olympics based on all the stats.   What do the Olympics stand for and it sure is not death, however, this man can not wrap his brain that this pandemic is making people deathly sick and he wants to go ahead at all costs.  I have one word for you, incredible!!! Incredibly stupid (one of Trump's favorite words) or ignorant/criminal in my words.

David Kanda, also hit the mark accurately.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The Olympics must be postponed until 2021 which is the only fair way for all the 11,000 athletes involved in the games. Even if Japan were to recover from the pandemic what about the other 150 countries involved in the games.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Bach is panicking and is unable to make a solid decision... Incredible lack of leadership from this guy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Akie, are you Abe’s wife?

inviting thousands of athletes to come to Japan now of all times has to be the craziest thing I have ever heard. The world is on virtual lockdown now. The last thing you want to do is encourage people to travel. Look at what is happening in Italy

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Alfie Noakes, being a personal success does not make him fit to lead an international organization.

Everything is easy while the going is good but true test of leadership is when the rubber hits the road and there is a serious crisis.

He is not fit to lead.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think there is already a slow move to preparing people for Tokyo 2020 being cancelled. It will be Abe who makes the final decision because then IOC can avoid financial loss and leave it up to Japan to pay the bill. As Japan has plenty of money even if it looks like a large amount in government spending it is tiny. Escpecially as the BoJ regularly prints the stuff without backing it in tangiable assests.

NHK reported the flame yesterday and the article include descent from arount the world. I expect NHK will have another report today with similar inferences and then next week a bit about the increase of covid cases and then Abe pretending he has no choice when in reality he had planned to postpone it months ago.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A lot of the money has already beeen spent by the host country and city in construction and preparations. Assuming Japanese construction companies have not cut corners and used sub-standard materials, they should still be standing in 2021. The IOC is sitting on cash reserves of around 2 billion dollars, that should be enough for even them to keep going for another year, until the gravy train starts up again.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What a moron.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Boycott the sponsors.

https://tokyo2020.org/en/organising-committee/marketing/sponsors/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The IOC and the local organizing committee must not be insensitive to the athletes health and safety. I believe we need note of the athletes and national organizations to speak up.

"The IOC wants us to keep risking our health, our family's health and public health to train every day? You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in 4 months."

-- Greece's Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi.

"I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity."

-- Hayley Wickenheiser, a Canadian IOC member and a four-time Olympic ice hockey gold medallist.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cancel this worthless archaic event already. In fact, cancel it for good for the rest of the time if you ask me

0 ( +1 / -1 )

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Saturday rebutted growing calls from athletes and officials around the globe for postponing this summer's Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus outbreak, saying it will not be easy to take such a major action.

It will not be easy to explain why ya'll endangered thousands of people by holding the Olympics on schedule.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ashley ShibaToday 12:51 pm JST

Alfie Noakes, if this man has such a CV and he is as great you wish to believe why has he not halted the Olympics based on all the stats.

I didn't say he was "great," I said he isn't thick. The two words have different meanings.

Just because a subliterate, narcisssistic clown can become President of the US it doesn't follow that an organization like the IOC will allow a "thick" person to lead it. Bach is many things but he's not "thick".

why has he not halted the Olympics based on all the stats.

Because neither the IOC, the JOC, the government of Japan nor the Tokyo government want to cancel it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Alfie Naokes, he has to be thick as he clearly has not grasped the worldwide devastation of this virus.   He refuses to cancel or postpone this event that will absolutely effect peoples' lives literally and in fact could cost them their lives, literally.  He should not be waiting a few months to make this decision and keeping up us (meaning myself, other expats and Japanese) who have to deal with the roller coaster of wondering if our lives are going to be put on the line or not.  That man nor his family will have to sacrifice anything if this event goes forward health wise and so again I say he is thick.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

keeping us up in the air

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bodge, Japan does not have plenty of money that is why our sales tax keeps rising.   Japan should never have gone out on the limb like it did when we are in such a financial hole.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Problem is the Olympics may only run for two weeks but the athletes need to arrive long before that to practice and acclimatize. Can't imagine many want to do that. Time for Japan to state the obvious - the Olympics can't possibly be held in July/August this year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bach has been insisting that the IOC's focus was solely on holding a "safe" Olympics on schedule.

"Safe" meaning the coffers of the IOC where the money is kept?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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