The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is pushing to have the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games go ahead this summer despite the new surge of COVID-19 around the world. Keith Mills, the deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games, said that it is unlikely the event will go ahead.
“Looking at the pandemic around the world, in South America, in North America, in Africa and across Europe, it looks unlikely,” Mills told BBC Radio 5 live.
“If I was sitting in the shoes of the organising committee in Tokyo, I would be making plans for a cancellation and I’m sure they have plans for a cancellation. I think they will leave it until absolutely the last minute in case the situation improves dramatically, in case the vaccinations roll out faster than we all hope.”
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency for Tokyo on January 7 due to the record number of new COVID-19 cases. The emergency order will remain in effect until at least the first week of February.
The Olympic Games were postponed due the coronavirus pandemic last summer and re-scheduled to take place from July 23 through August 8 this year.
Canadian IOC member Dick Pound has also stated that he is uncertain that the event will go ahead. However, the IOC is reportedly looking to ensure athletes will be vaccinated against COVID-19 before travelling to Tokyo. Although, the organisation earlier stated that athletes would not be obligated to take a vaccine, BBC Sport reported that Pound suggested organisers could make it a condition before entering Japan.
The Guardian reported that World Athletics president Sebastian Coe is under a more optimistic opinion, however, and believes that the Tokyo Olympic Games will take place as planned.
“I don’t think it will be cancelled,” Coe told Sky News. “It is going to be a challenge, we know that, it is pretty self-evident and there will be adaptions. But of all the countries on the planet that has the fortitude and the resilience to see this through, it is Japan. I wake up as a federation president grateful that Japan is dealing with this and not some other places I could think of.”
Coe is concerned that there will be a problem with crowds at an event the size of the Olympic Games. Even if there are no fans, there will be 10,500 athletes and 7,000 staff members on site, and that there will need to be strict health protocol in place.
“They are all wanting to eat at the same time and that is just a sliver of the challenge,” he said. “For the athletes it will be a different experience. I think the Games will take place but they will look different.”