IOC: Tokyo Games will proceed despite COVID

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    THE postponed Tokyo Olympic Games will be held next year “with or without COVID,” the vice-president of the International Olympic Committee said Monday.

    IOC VP John Coates said next year’s games will be held regardless of whether the world has a handle on the pandemic or not.

    The same view was expressed by Japanese Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto, who said the Games should be held for the benefit of the athletes, regardless of the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    The 2020 Tokyo Games were originally scheduled to start this July but were pushed back to next summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IOC had earlier said they would not delay the games again, beyond 2021.

    “The Games were going to be their theme, the Reconstruction Games, after the devastation of the tsunami,” Coates told AFP, referring to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

    “Now very much these will be the Games that conquered COVID, the light at the end of the tunnel.”

    The Olympics officially were postponed in March due to the pandemic. Currently, the Tokyo Olympics are set to start July 23, 2021 and will run until Aug. 8, 2021.

    In July, Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said it would be possible for the Games to be held with a reduced audience, according to the BBC. Every effort will be made by the committee to avoid contesting events with no spectators at all.

    Muto told the BBC an adjusted opening and closing ceremonies would not only reduce the number of staff but the delegations from each country as well.

    As the medical world progresses on a vaccine for COVID-19, it is not considered a prerequisite for the Games to be held.

    “If a vaccine is ready, that will be a benefit, but we’re not saying we can’t hold the event without it,” he said to the BBC.