Tokyo – The International Olympic Committee is “fully committed” to holding the 2020 Games in Tokyo as planned despite the widening new coronavirus outbreak, according to the IOC president.
The IOC “is fully committed to a successful Olympic Games in Tokyo starting July 24,” Thomas Bach told Japanese media in a conference call, according to Kyodo News.
The comments came as the viral outbreak across Japan and dozens of other countries has fueled concerns about the Summer Games, with a swathe of other sports events postponed or cancelled.
Bach avoided directly addressing comments by senior IOC member Dick Pound, who hinted the Games could be cancelled if health authorities block travel.
Pound also said there has been no formal discussion among IOC members about cancelling the Games.
Pound said the Tokyo Games will go ahead as scheduled “absent some very serious and specific admonitions or regulations stemming from the WHO or appropriate regulatory authorities”.
“Unless there is a world situation that is so serious that the games cannot be held or that the regulatory authorities prohibit travel or that sort of thing, we’re carrying on,” he said.
Bach said the priority now “is to ensure the qualification procedure and protecting the safety of athletes at the same time”, according to Kyodo.
Disruption caused by the virus has affected Olympic qualifying in several sports, including football, boxing, badminton, handball and wrestling and sailing.
Tokyo’s Olympic organizers have repeatedly said they are focused on holding a safe Olympics and Paralympics with the IOC’s full backing. AFP