Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), bump elbows after a ceremony in which Bach presented the Olympic Order to Abe at the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo on Monday. Photo: Kim Kyung-hoon/Pool via AP
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IOC chief Bach confident Tokyo Olympics will be safe for athletes, fans

58 Comments
By Hiroshi Hiyama

International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach said Monday he is now "very, very confident" that spectators will be able to attend next year's Tokyo Olympics, as he kicked off a visit aimed at boosting momentum for the pandemic-postponed Games.

Spiralling infections and new lockdowns around the world have renewed skepticism that the massive international event will be possible if the pandemic is not under control by opening day, now scheduled for July 23, 2021.

But organizers and Japanese officials have insisted that they can hold the event, and are drawing up a raft of coronavirus countermeasures intended to make the Games safe even if the pandemic is not over.

"We are putting really a huge tool box together in which we will put all the different measures we can imagine," Bach said, after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for talks that began with the two masked men fist-bumping for the cameras.

"Next year... we will be able to take (the) right tools out of this tool box and apply them in order to ensure safe environment for all participants in the Games. This makes us all very, very confident that we can have spectators in the Olympic stadia next year," Bach said.

The Olympic chief also pledged that the IOC would "undertake great efforts" to make sure as many participants and spectators as possible are vaccinated before arriving in Japan, if a vaccine is available by next summer.

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, right, greets International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach during their meeting in Tokyo, Monday. Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool via AP

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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach talks with Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike in Tokyo on Monday. Photo: AP/Koji Sasahara

Bach, on his first trip to Tokyo since the Games were postponed in March, is hoping to convince athletes, Japanese citizens and Olympics sponsors that the Games can be held safely next year.

Polls show a majority of Japan's public believe the Games should be postponed further, or cancelled altogether. And more than 60 percent of domestic sponsors have yet to commit to extending their contracts for another year, domestic media reported this weekend.

But there are glimmers of hope for organizers and Japanese officials, who have insisted a further delay is not on the table, and that cancellation is not being discussed.

News last week of positive results in a late-stage vaccine trial were welcomed by Tokyo 2020 officials as a "relief", though organizers cautioned that they will continue to prepare measures to hold the Games even without a vaccine.

And Tokyo this month successfully staged a four-nation gymnastics competition, its first international sporting event during the pandemic, hailed as proof the Games are possible.

In a possible preview of the restrictions Olympic athletes may face, gymnasts from the United States, China and Russia travelled on charter planes and were restricted to designated hotel floors, assigned buses and competition venues.

Athletes had to isolate themselves before coming to Japan, and test negative 72 hours before arrival. They were also tested every day after their arrival.

Spectators at the event had to wear face masks, sanitize their hands and undergo temperature checks, and were told not to shout or cheer.

A coronavirus task force grouping Japanese government officials and Olympic organizers has proposed measures including limiting athlete movement and banning cheering in venues. Final decisions on rules are not expected before next spring.

Japan's government has maintained a steadfastly upbeat position on the prospects for the Games, with Suga reiterating Monday that they would go ahead and serve "as proof that mankind overcame the virus".

"Together we can make this Olympic Games and the Olympic flame the light at the end of the tunnel that we are all in during this coronavirus crisis," added Bach.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bach met former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to present him with the Olympic Order, and also had a meeting with Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike who said Tokyo will make utmost efforts to host a safe Olympics and welcome spectators from all over the world.

Later Tuesday, Bach will hold a press conference with Tokyo Games Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori.

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


58 Comments
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no touching.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

Just not very many fans.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

any fans.from yamada denki...highly likely?

why not abolish this whole circuss for sake of security of potential visitors or "fans"?

why cant use common sense?????

18 ( +19 / -1 )

International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach said Monday he is now "very, very confident" that spectators will be able to attend next year's Tokyo Olympics, as he kicked off a visit aimed at boosting momentum for the pandemic-postponed Games.

Just more proof of what I said yesterday: this man is a complete imbecile.

22 ( +24 / -2 )

social distance please!!!!!!!!!!

13 ( +15 / -2 )

I knew he'd get away with out needing to self isolate. Talk about Animal Farm.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

Let's wait and see...still 8 more months to go.

If a vaccine is safely implemented all around the world...why not?

-26 ( +3 / -29 )

factchecker Today  02:32 pm JST

I knew he'd get away with out needing to self isolate. Talk about Animal Farm.

Yep. How much more proof do we need that this is pandemic theatre? Mr Bach and his ilk can scurry about the world at will without having to quarantine, while the plebs are under restrictions of various levels.

24 ( +28 / -4 )

Sure they will! Him and his family! They count!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Shinzo Abe resigned because he knew Olympics isn't going to be a possibility. Suga should drop the mask as well.

20 ( +22 / -2 )

Can't wait! There are many tools at their disposal to control this virus and I am sure it will be a success and be ground-breaking for a new Olympic strategy.

-19 ( +5 / -24 )

The only fans will be LDP supporters or workers for an LDP supporter using LDP supplied hand fans trying to look like a crowd while sweating to death, and wondering why they are there? Because an un named advertising agency needs to at least appear to have given value for money. What a wonderful world they live in.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Can someone enlighten me if tickets were refunded or if the tickets people bought are good for next year? They really need the money from spectator tickets so they'll accept any reason to have spectators.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Well there certainly is a lot of negativity and sour grapes here. I think about the athletes and the dedication they made to compete, and overcoming this virus in some way is very inspirational.

-14 ( +6 / -20 )

If a vaccine is safely implemented all around the world...why not?

Because there are 7.8 billion people on the planet. If you think even half of them will be vaccinated by next summer you’re way beyond hopeful.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

The Olympic chief also pledged that the IOC would "undertake great efforts" to make sure as many participants and spectators as possible are vaccinated before arriving in Japan, if a vaccine is available by next summer.

100% should have to be vaccinated.

Japan shouldn’t welcome becoming a petri dish for the world.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

@Bob Fosse

I am always optimistic and hopeful in everything...

But I don't expect 3.9 Billion people for the Olympics.

-12 ( +6 / -18 )

Can someone enlighten me if tickets were refunded or if the tickets people bought are good for next year? They really need the money from spectator tickets so they'll accept any reason to have spectators.

I’ve read that people in Japan are supposed to be able to get refunds. If not already, soon. I don’t know details.

Even though I’ve been in Japan for decades and have proper documentation and a Japanese phone, when I attempted to buy tickets the system told me tickets for my (outside of Japan) area were not on sale yet. I decided if they were going to be that way, it wasn’t worth the trouble of going.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

But I don't expect 3.9 Billion people for the Olympics.

Well then think about it. Those that do come will be coming from some miraculous vacuum?

Do you really need this explaining to you?

7 ( +10 / -3 )

I’ve read that people in Japan are supposed to be able to get refunds. If not already, soon. I don’t know details.

Thanks.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

RecklessToday  03:29 pm JST

Well there certainly is a lot of negativity and sour grapes here. I think about the athletes and the dedication they made to compete, and overcoming this virus in some way is very inspirational.

Nobody's being negative toward the athletes as far as I can tell. Many of them have had their training restricted and all sorts of other freedoms curtailed like the rest of us. It's people like Bach who deserve the contempt dished out - one rule for him, etc.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

The jerk is wearing an N95 mask, meaning he's happy to give others the virus if he has it.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

@Bob

Do you understand the meaning of "implement"?

When I say, if a vaccine is safely implemented means that it is already available and already given to the public.

Of course I don't know if the vaccine will be safely implemented all over the world by next year summer...therefore I said "IF" a vaccine is safely implemented.

Of course there are many vaccine deniers, so because of these people the Olympics will be at a risk.

But IF it is safely implemented...why not?

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

But IF it is safely implemented...why not?

Because as I said, it is impossible to ‘implement’ a vaccine (that is still unavailable and can’t be ‘implemented’ yet) globally to billions of people before next Summer.

But to keep you happy sure, IF it is ‘implemented’ why not?

But it won’t be.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

why not abolish this whole circuss for sake of security of potential visitors or "fans"?

why cant use common sense?????

If I was to spell it out in one word..... M.O.N.E.Y.

 I think about the athletes and the dedication they made to compete, 

I think about them too..not just Olympians but also Paralympians....and how many of them in so many countries are affected by the lockdowns and restrictions that take away the chance to train properly. How can they compete on a fair level if some countries have tough restrictions, other have some and yet others have none. How will that affect their performance and ensure fair playing field?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

@Cricky Because an un-named advertising agency needs to at least appear to have given value for money. 

They'll probably make their staff attend the Games, at least those who are not working already on it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I won’t be lining up for anything to be stuck in my body just to watch the sports circus...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

IOC chief Bach confident Tokyo Olympics will be safe for athletes, fans

Yeah, okay, that's so true (sarcasm). Don't mind that COVID-19 numbers are still up, more so from last year, while many foreigners are still banned from Japan travel.

I don't think so.

The Olympic chief also pledged that the IOC would "undertake great efforts" to make sure as many participants and spectators as possible are vaccinated before arriving in Japan, if a vaccine is available by next summer.

That is a big "IF." IF there is not vaccine by next summer, then what? They can try to make special exceptions for athletes, but IF there's no vaccine,

4 ( +4 / -0 )

But to keep you happy sure, IF it is ‘implemented’ why not?

But it won’t be.

Even then, no.

Athletes need months of preparation to avoid injuries (and top performance).

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Olympics will be safe for athletes

Suga wins gold in Sit-ups, Back in Pie-Eating.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Why would anyone think it’s possible to make 7 billion people take a vaccine before next Summer when it’s been such an uphill struggle asking them to wear a mask?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The elbow bumping that these and so many other public figures do for the cameras is so phony.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

As expected, people involved in Olympics will be getting priority in vaccines, rather than based on public health.

I guess the general population won't be getting vaccines by then.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Indeed, if tourist are subject to the same rules we are such as:

take a PCR test 72 hours before departure that needs to be negative

not being positive upon arrival in Japan - you won’t be able to stay and will need to go back to your destination of origin.

quarantine yourself for 14 days in a specified hotel where you will be able to watch the Olympics on TV

楽しんでね〜

So objectively, they are not lying here

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'd be amazed if Japan let anyone into the country by summer - I'm booked to fly to Japan at the end of April but I know I will need to rebook (again).

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You can smell the desperation, it’s embarrassing.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I can say, I'm glad, we live many hundreds of kilometers from Tokyo.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Upon his arrival in Nippon, did Mister BAKA complete his 14-day (at his own expense) self-isolation ? Why not? One rule for the Elite, and another rule for the rest of us Proletariat...

10 ( +10 / -0 )

yeah like he is gonna say it isn't safe when he has money to make on it

7 ( +7 / -0 )

When did the elbow bump become an acceptable greeting? Seems weird that people are supposed to be 2 meters apart when possible, but to do this manuver you need to almost get face-to-face. :-D

7 ( +8 / -1 )

kusaisaruToday  07:03 pm JST

When did the elbow bump become an acceptable greeting? Seems weird that people are supposed to be 2 meters apart when possible, but to do this manuver you need to almost get face-to-face. :-D

it shows how incoherent and dangerous those politicians are.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

did Mister BAKA complete his 14-day (at his own expense) self-isolation

Why would he? He flew in on a private jet, not on ANA economy class. Him and his entourage also seem to have an endless supply of N95 masks meant for first-line responders.

So no, the rules don't apply to this man.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

When did the elbow bump become an acceptable greeting?

This is a good question. At my office now we do not shake hands and it is kind of awkward not to do it and unclear what is appropriate as a replacement.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

At my office now we do not shake hands and it is kind of awkward not to do it and unclear what is appropriate as a replacement.

Have you tried smiling and saying “hello”?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Later Tuesday, Bach will hold a press conference with Tokyo Games Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori.

In this theater of the absurd, somebody for the love of dog ask them about IOC bribes, Black Tidings, and Dentsu.

This is like the Emperor has no clothes now in the way they do not acknowledge the situation. Or Bach et al has no mask.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I wouldn't be surprised if the Games went ahead without overseas spectators – only athletes and domestic fans.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This report and the pictures itself is evidence in my opinion that the pandemic is fake or they all got PCR tested on the same day and came out negative so that why they are getting up and close while they tell the rest of us to distance ourself with others? You choose to believe what is real and fake news.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Why isn't Abe proudly wearing his awesome signature Abenomask? After all he paid his crony J- Inc friends 400 million bucks in our tax money for it. Least he could do is stand proudly by the initiative he will be remembered for.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I seriously doubt anyone of you would be willing to be lab rats for the vaccine test. That’s a huge risk to take. You’re not going to get that many people inoculated.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There was just some news that Moderna, in addition to Pfizer, has an effective vaccine, so maybe the Olympics are suddenly looking a little more likely.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Will be probably funny with all those new records based on doping. This time they cannot exclude the few remaining athletes if they are caught with having taken in their‘medications’. lol

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

There was just some news that Moderna, in addition to Pfizer, has an effective vaccine, so maybe the Olympics are suddenly looking a little more likely.

No vaccine will be approved before Biden is president, so that's end of January.

Then it needs to be distributed, people inoculated, athletes starting training, warmup meets, etc.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Money makes anything happen but in this case, the games will begin but at the end Japan will suffer a big loss. Spectators are not going to show, if this pandemic does not get any better by the time the athletes start to arrive. If they arrive!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I seriously doubt anyone of you would be willing to be lab rats for the vaccine test. That’s a huge risk to take. You’re not going to get that many people inoculated.

I would. If I were in the U.K. I would have volunteered for the current trials. You do not need to inoculate the whole population to achieve herd immunity, not everyone can be inoculated. Concentrate vaccinations on the old, young and the vulnerable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is unfair for those who trained for the 2020 Games. In that sense, the Game is a big loss. How many records supposedly be broken now is uncertain. How many talents who supposedly make history now is retiring ? Sad, and bad, all is because the headless chicken PM.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cash overules Care. The pandemic will still be raging . One person will be a catalist to mass infections.

The ultimate winner will be "Mega Deaths".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No one would have been practicing. People’s lives are not on a deadline, there’s no reason to risk. The Tokyo games are already a lemon

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Have these people not heard of Zoom,?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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