International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach: Games Will Be Cancelled If They Are Not Held In 2021


International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says the Tokyo Games would be cancelled if they are not held in 2021.

Doubt has been cast recently over whether the Olympics can go ahead as rescheduled from 23 July 2021 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto both suggested in April that the Games would be scrapped if they do not take place next year while Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said they cannot take place unless the pandemic has been contained.


Photo Courtesy: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Bach has added his voice to proceedings, with understanding for Abe’s predicament with the novel coronavirus having infected more than 17,100 people in Japan, causing 797 deaths.

The head of the International Olympic Committee told the BBC:

“Quite frankly, I have some understanding for this, because you can’t forever employ 3,000 or 5,000 people in an Organising Committee.

“You can’t every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations.

“You can’t have the athletes being in uncertainty.”

The International Olympic Committee is committed to holding the Games next year although they have to be prepared for different scenarios including quarantining athletes.

“All these different scenarios are under consideration and this is why I’m saying it’s a mammoth task, because there are so many different options that it’s not easy to address them (now).

“When we have a clear view on how the world will look on July 23, 2021, then (we will) take the appropriate decisions.”


  1. Julie Tellier

    And why would they be cancelled? Do not say because of coronavirus still hanging out 14 months from now ?

  2. Leslie Cichocki

    This doesn’t make sense. They say a vaccine will be out this fall or by January so what’s the reason for cancelling? Just reschedule for 2022 whatever the reason maybe because athletes worked so hard to get there.

    • Heather York DiFulvio

      Leslie Cichocki They say “if” because there is no guarantee the vaccine will be ready. December/January is a best case scenario. There is still the prediction that the second wave, which could hit before a vaccine, will be worse than the first. So, they are preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.

  3. Marsha Kathryn McClary

    I think there needs to be a plan to test everyone there. By that time the capacity to do so should be in place. If that isn’t being planned for I’d be shocked. Games can go on safely if everyone arriving is clear first and doesn’t leave the village.

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Quite so. Footballers in Europe etc are all being tested regularly now and removed from teams and team isolated if anyone tests positive. That’s what would have to happen, so in the interests of teams / nations to run regular tests in controlled environments some weeks ahead of Games, assuming the world hasn’t moved on to a better place on COVID-19 by then.