IOC President Thomas Bach said organisers were committed to holding a "successful and safe" Tokyo Games this year, dismissing cancellation talk as "speculation".
“This fight against the virus, as you all know from your personal circumstances, is a tough one. But we are fighting this fight for, and like, Olympic athletes. This means with full determination, with a will to win, with hard work every day, and with all the physical and mental strength we have," he added.
"We are not speculating on whether the Games are taking place. We are working on how the Games will take place," Bach stressed.
Over 60% of athletes have already secured places to the Olympic Games, as international sports events resume.
He also explained why the IOC is confident about the Games this summer: “We have to put the COVID countermeasures together for every possible scenario. And in this, we are relying on the advice of all the different authorities. There’s the Japanese government, the health authorities, the World Health Organization; we are talking with the manufacturers of vaccines – with all the experts."
"From these consultations, we can conclude that it is too early to tell which of the many COVID countermeasures 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. We have to be patient and diligent in the same way.”
The next major initiative to be communicated, as Games preparations advance, is the publication of the playbooks in early February.
These guidelines will outline the fundamental measures each stakeholder group will have to follow before, during and after Tokyo 2020 to ensure the safety and success of this year’s Games.
Reigning Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi has spoken out strongly in favour of going ahead with the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
It is recalled last year, she accused the International Olympic Committee of putting athletes “at risk” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Stefanidi told Japan’s Kyodo news agency that it would be better to hold the Olympics without fans than not at all, adding that she thought athletes were overwhelmingly in favour of competing.
“I think that it’s a very different situation than what we had last year, where we didn’t really know anything about the virus,” she added.
Earlier this year, Florida offered to host the 2021 Olympics amid speculation that Tokyo may back out due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Florida Chief Financial Officer
“I am writing to encourage you to consider relocating the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo, Japan to the United States of America, and more specifically to Florida,” Patronis wrote.
“With media reports of leaders in Japan ‘privately’ concluding that they are too concerned about the pandemic for the 2021 Olympics to take place, there is still time to deploy a site selection team to Florida,” he added.
Patronis praised Florida’s hotel capacity and transportation infrastructure, and used the 2020 NBA ‘bubble’ as an example.
“Additionally, our international tourist destinations, like Disney parks have been open and operating safely in Florida for some time. In fact, Disney serves as an incredible model for how to run a complex organization in the midst of COVID-19,” Patronis wrote.
“Whatever precautions are required let’s figure it out and get it done,” he concluded.