—- The message is clear. It leaves no room for doubt or interpretation. The Tokyo 2020 Games will take place on the new dates, from July 23 to August 8, 2021, announced last month by the IOC. Otherwise, they will not take place at all. End of the story.

Thomas Bach had suggested this in an interview with the German daily Die Welt , published on Sunday April 12. Masa Takaya, spokesman for the organizing committee, confirmed this on Tuesday April 14 at a press conference by video. A postponement is realistic. But it would not be possible to envisage a second.

”  We are working today with this new goal for the Games in the summer of 2021 ,” said Masa Takaya, speaking in English. But we don’t have a plan B. All I can tell you today is that the new dates for the Olympic and Paralympic Games have just been set. The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and all parties concerned are now doing their best to organize the Games next year. 

No plan B, therefore. Only one scenario, the Olympic Games from July 23 to August 8, 2021, then the Paralympic Games from August 24 to September 5. The rest are not on the Japanese plans.

Two weeks back, the focus of the Japanese organizers would have seemed obvious. The postponement of a year seemed far enough to not even think of considering the worst. But the news of the coronavirus pandemic is currently advancing at such a rate that it becomes risky to mention the slightest date as for a return to normal life on the whole planet.

The Japanese know it. Toshiro Muto, the director general of the Tokyo Games organizing committee, suggested this last weekend during a press conference: it is currently impossible to guarantee that the health situation will not present the slightest risk l next year at the scheduled time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In Japan, the measures taken by the authorities to try to contain the pandemic were reinforced last week. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has established a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures, including Osaka, Chiba and Fukuoka. But the number of cases of people with COVID-19 has doubled in the capital since the establishment of the state of emergency.

On Monday April 13, Hokkaido Prefecture in turn announced a state of emergency. It started the next day and should last at least until May 6. It concerns in particular the city of Sapporo, where the Olympic marathon and marathon events are still planned. The prefecture of Hokkaido had already applied equivalent measures last February, before relaxing them.

A new press conference by video is planned for Thursday April 16 by the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Games. It is intended for the Japanese media. The IOC should take part from Lausanne. The question of a possible, or impossible, second postponement will certainly still be asked.

At 464 days from the opening, the organizers of the Tokyo Games may now refrain from speaking only to the future, to use the conditional instead. The Games in July and August 2021. Maybe.