KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Thomas Bach and the International Olympic Committee have set their minds firmly on carrying through with the staging of the rescheduled Games.
Bach laid down the law after an online executive board meeting which focused on preparations for Tokyo. He dismissed, with some impatience, speculation about a further postponement or cancellation or even transfer of the Games.
No-one doubts Bach’s determination despite reports that the Japanese government is developing cold feet and the public have swung against the Games.
At the least he left no doubt that, if anyone should call off the party, it would not be him or the IOC. Responsibility – important in terms of all the multi-million commercial and broadcasting contracts – would never lie with him.
The Games were awarded to Tokyo, for the second time, at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in 2013. A historic first Olympic postponement was then agreed in March last year in response to worldwide concern over the explosion of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That defensive action will not be repeated, according to the IOC’s German president. Quite the reverse.
Bach said: “We are committed to the safe and successful staging of the Olympic Games. We have had consultation calls with the international federations and NOCs and reports from the athletes’ representatives so we could understand that all of them are fully united and committed.
“We see the same commitment from the Japanese side with their government and organising committee.”
The process itself was a steep learning curve.
Bach said: “The organisation is already an extremely complex challenge which is multiplied when it comes to organised a postponed Games under the conditions of a pandemic. There is no blueprint for this and we are learning every day.
“We are fighting this like Olympic athletes with full determination to win every day and with all the physical and mental strengths we can have.”
The practical steps include creating ‘so-called playbooks’ setting out the various options, strategies and solutions for organisers, athletes and officials planning for Tokyo.
Bach firmly rejected any idea that athletes should seek priority in obtaining anti-coronavirus vaccinations.
He said: “Vaccination is not a but one of the items being put in the toolbox. We are encouraging everybody to accept vaccination not only in their own interest to be safe but in solidarity with the Japanese people and their fellow Olympians.”
Negative speculation was off the agenda.
Bach insisted: “All the [negative] speculations are hurting the athletes in their daily training – the speculation about cancellation, about a Plan B, about everything.
“We are not losing time and energy on this speculation but are fully concentrated on the Opening Ceremony on July 23. We are not speculating on ‘whether’ the Games will take place but working on ‘how’ the Games will take place.
“It is too early to tell which of the many counter measures will finally be the appropriate ones when it comes to the time of the Games. We just have to ask for patience and understanding from the athletes, from the national Olympic committees, the international federations, the Japanese people, the organising committee, everybody.”