International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, told BBC the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will not be postponed past 2021, and would have to be cancelled if it cannot take place in 2021.
Bach said through discussions with Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, it may be “too difficult” to stage the Games if the country does not successfully contain the virus and could depend on whether a vaccine has been found in time.
“There is no blueprint for it, so we have to reinvent the wheel day by day,” Bach said.
“It’s very challenging and at the same time, fascinating…
“We are relying on the advice of the World Health Organisation.
“We have established one principle: to organise these Games in a safe environment for all the participants.
“Nobody knows what the world will look like in one year, in two months.
“So we have to rely on [experts] and then take the appropriate decision at the appropriate time based on this advice,” he said.
Bach said with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics scheduled for just six months after the Tokyo Olympics, it has been made clear July 2021 was the last option for Tokyo.
“Quite frankly, I have some understanding for this, because you cannot forever employ 3,000 or 5,000 people in an Organising Committee,” Bach said.
“You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations.
“You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty.
“You cannot have so much overlapping with a future Olympic Games, so I have some understanding for this approach by our Japanese partners.
“We have to be prepared for different scenarios, there is the clear commitment to having these Games in July next year,” he said.
Bach also said an Olympic Games staged behind closed doors has not been made yet, as it would go against the Olympic spirit.
“This is not what we want,” Bach said, discussing a Games without spectators.
“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.
“They will definitely be different, and they have to be different.
“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,” he said.