Tokyo Olympics: IOC confident of hosting Olympics in Japan despite Covid emergency, says, ‘nothing can stop it’

Tokyo Olympics: IOC confident of hosting Olympics in Japan despite Covid emergency. Vice President John Coates says 'nothing can stop it’
Tokyo Olympics: IOC confident of hosting Olympics in Japan despite Covid emergency. Vice President John Coates says 'nothing can stop it’

Tokyo Olympics: IOC confident of hosting Olympics in Japan despite COVID emergency, says, ‘nothing can stop it’ – Even as Tokyo continues to undergo extended COVID-19 emergency, International Olympic Committee (IOC) is confident that the ongoing pandemic will pose no risk to the summer games that is scheduled to begin on July 23. Before IOC President Thomas Bach’s visit, the Vice-President and Head of the IOC’s coordination commission, John Coates, said on Saturday the games will go on despite COVID-19 risks.

“No, there’s not (chance of postponement). The prime minister of Japan said that to the president of the United States two or three weeks ago. He continues to say that to the IOC. We’re working with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on all of the safety measures. It’s going ahead,” John Coates told AFP.

Also Read: Tokyo Olympics: Just 11 weeks before Games, Japan extends emergency in Tokyo amid Covid-19 surge

In April, Suga held talks with US President Joe Biden, assuring him of containing COVID-19 infections and organize the Tokyo Olympics safely. Tokyo and other Japanese cities are currently in a state of emergency to slow down the spread that was further extended till May 31 on Friday. With vaccine roll out slow and an overwhelming majority of the Japanese public in favour of postponing or cancelling the Olympics, the government is under pressure.

However, John Coates said that a huge amount of work to ensure the safety of athletes and the Japanese public has already been done. Furthermore, IOC has announced a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech to vaccinate competitors and staff at the Tokyo Olympics to ensure safety. The drug giants said that they would coordinate with national sporting bodies to make the vaccine available for any athletes who want it before travelling to Japan.

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“We spent the first half of last year identifying all the worst-case scenarios,” he told reporters in Sydney on the sidelines of the Australian Olympic Committee’s annual general meeting. We spent the next six months looking at the countermeasures that are necessary. We’re implementing those countermeasures, predicated on there being no vaccine, so that situation has improved. The Games will go ahead,” John Coates said.

He added that the IOC was not putting pressure on Japan or the financial interests before athletes. “All of the precautions that we have been taking are aimed at the health of the athletes and the health of the people of Japan. We’ve put an amazing amount of work into the procedures that ensure the safety of the athletes through testing … boosted now by all athletes around the world now having access to the vaccine.”

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However, John Coates added that the IOC was concerned with Japanese people not being on board with Tokyo Olympics. “I think there’s a correlation between the numbers who are concerned about their safety with the numbers who have been vaccinated in Japan. And the numbers (vaccinated) are very small, particularly among the elderly. So as the vaccine is rolled out in Japan, I think that will improve,” Coates said.

“The other message we have to get across to them and are getting across to them is that these measures we’ve been taking and trialling at test events are working,” he added.

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