Team GB 'hugely confident' Tokyo Games will go ahead

By Alan Baldwin

Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England said on Wednesday he was confident the Tokyo Olympics would go ahead this year but athletes could expect them to be very different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Games, delayed from 2020 due to the novel coronavirus, are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 but Japan has expanded a state of emergency in the Tokyo area with cases of COVID-19 rising steadily.

"We are hugely confident of the Games going ahead in the summer," England told Reuters after announcing the selection of shooting hopefuls Kirsty Hegarty, Matt Coward-Holley, Aaron Heading and Seonaid McIntosh. "We certainly wouldn't be announcing athletes if that wasn't the case."

England, who sits on an International Olympic Committee (IOC) working group, said there would be some "obvious pressure points" but "incredibly comprehensive" health and safety protocols would protect the athletes.

A weekend survey by Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed most locals want to cancel or postpone the Games.

Takeshi Niinami, CEO of beverage giant Suntory Holdings and an economic adviser to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, told Reuters he was unsure whether the Olympics could be held as planned.

England said he based his confidence on much more than just "a vibe".

"The Prime Minister of Japan overnight has commented that the Games will go ahead, the IOC are very confident in their planning for the Games to go ahead," he said.

"There is nothing that we are hearing today that suggests the Games won't go ahead. We are full steam ahead, planning to embark on Japan from the middle of July and that is our focus of attention."


Team GB finished second in the medals table behind the United States at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and are hoping for an even bigger haul in Tokyo.

England did not expect athletes to have to quarantine on arrival. They would instead have COVID-19 tests prior to departure and on arrival and then go straight to a preparation camp in Yokohama.

Asked about the protocols and social distancing at events, he said competitors could expect to spend less time in the village or attending other events.

"We are considering proposals that would suggest that athletes would only arrive... five to seven days before their competition starts, which is a change of the protocol at previous games, and will be encouraged to leave the Olympic environment up to 48 hours after competition," he said.

"So a very, very different Games. A Games where we won't necessarily see athletes supporting their team mates as we have seen in the past.

"But everybody is prepared to work through those (protocols) to ensure that for those athletes in competition it is the safest possible environment that we can prepare for them."

England said Team GB planned to take 375-380 athletes to Tokyo, with more women than men for the first time, plus support staff.

"What we do know at this stage is there is absolutely no impact on the number of support staff that National Olympic Committees can take," he added. "There is no reduction in the accredited support staff for the athlete fraternity.

"What we will see I think is an encouragement that the wider delegation, some of our stakeholders and partners, may be discouraged to attend. "It may well be that the environment, not being allowed to enter the Olympic village or restrictions around that, may well preclude their attendance anyway."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Click For Restrictions -

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these people obviously live in a reality deficient bubble

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Mr England ? Never heard of him. But the man is incompetent wherever he comes from.

the Mans comments proofs he has no clue of what is going on and so should be removed immediately to save team GB from further embarrassment.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

This guy obviously has no clue as to what the heck is happening in Japan.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

This England fellow sounds rather deluded. Im picturing an image of him as a Mr. Bean type.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

 a reality deficient bubble

Ivory towers have very small windows.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

He is just justifiing his exsitance, and that takes reality out of the argument. For him his wage and position overrule any sence of responsibility or normal bounds of common sence.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

On what basis is he so confident....?

England said he based his confidence on much more than just "a vibe".

Ooh, that's good. He's got some real reasons to believe that the Games can go ahead. I wonder what they are...

"The Prime Minister of Japan overnight has commented that the Games will go ahead...


...the IOC are very confident in their planning for the Games to go ahead," he said.


3 ( +3 / -0 )

Surprise surprise, a man who is paid to promote the Olympics promoted the Olympics. Why is this even news?

Mr England would have better spent his energies telling his own government to get his own country's Covid measures sorted first. How are they going to hold trials and training camps? Are they basing selections on 2019 performances?

what a shambles.

Bring on Paris 2024 and have Tokyo2028. 2020 is munted.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

He only got the job because of his surname.

Clearly an expert on all matters Covid and on the way governments will respond to ongoing record infections and deaths.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If Covid doesn't get you, the radioactive water from Fukushima will. Forget about the Olympics, let's get this place cleaned up first.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Pommie is or out of reality or on weed...or bribed by Mori?

there will be no olympics in Japan this year.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I will hand out one compliment. You really can't think of a better last name for the guy. Maybe if his name was Albion England that would top it.

It would be like the head of the USIOC being named Andrew Merica, or the head of the French group being named Francois, and the Deutschland head being Germain.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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