AIPS / LAUSANNE: Thomas Bach has refused to be concede defeat to the fast-spreading coronavirus to this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, stating that the Games will still go ahead as planned.
The president of the International Olympic Committee told a news conference on Wednesday “neither the word cancellation nor the word postponement was even mentioned” during the second day of an executive board meeting in Lausanne.
On Tuesday the IOC released a statement expressing its “full commitment” to the success of the Games scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August. But on the same day Japan’s Olympic minister also claimed the Games could be postponed until later due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Bach, asked how he could be so confident the Olympics would not be called off, said: “Because we talk to the experts. We are a sports organization and we follow the advice of the World Health Organization.”
Bach met the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom and other leading officials last Friday.
A joint task force had been created in mid-February, involving officials from the IOC, Tokyo 2020, the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and WHO.
Bach, answering another question about a decision-day deadline, said: “I will not add fuel to the flame of speculation.”
The coronavirus that emerged in China late last year has killed over 3,000 people and infected more than 95,000 worldwide. It has wrecked havoc in the sporting calendar as well, affecting even qualifying competitions for Tokyo 2020. There have been postponements, cancellations, venues changed, as well as travel issues for athletes.
Bach said: “This is challenging but I must also say I’m pretty proud of the Olympic movement and the great solidarity everyone has shown so far to address these challenges.”
He revealed “quota allocations” could be implemented for sports worst affected by the coronavirus.
Bach added: “We may have to consult with international federations with regard to quota allocations if there would be a case where athletes have been prevented from taking part in the qualification process.
“If such cases do arise, we will look with the IF into this and will try to find a fair solution. This fair solution can mean in the end that we will increase the quota places for this IF for a limited number of athletes, which according then to the judgement of the IFs, would most likely have qualified if they could have participated.”