Japanese Government, IOC And IPC Insist Games Will Go Ahead After Cancellation Claims

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The Japanese government, IOC and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have insisted the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will go ahead after a report in The Times quoted a senior official saying the Games would be cancelled.

Speculation has been mounting for weeks now that the Olympics, which had already been pushed back a year from their original start date of July 2020, are under threat because of the pandemic.

According to The Times, an unnamed senior Japanese government figure said:

“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

That comes just one day after IOC president Thomas Bach said there was no Plan B for Tokyo, leaving cancellation or going ahead as planned as the only options, insisting he had full conviction in the Olympics taking place from 23 July.

The Japanese government released a statement which claimed the reports are “categorically untrue,” saying:

“Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus. This is categorically untrue.

“At an IOC Executive Board meeting in July last year, it was agreed that the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would be held on July 23 this year, and the programme and venues for the Games were rescheduled accordingly. All parties involved are working together to prepare for a successful Games this summer.

“We will be implementing all possible countermeasures against COVID-19 and will continue to work closely with the IOC, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in our preparations for holding a safe and secure Games this summer.”

IOC

Courtesy of: IOC

The IOC added:

“Together with its Japanese partners and friends, the IOC is fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year.”

The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee said:

“Prime Minister Suga has expressed his determination to hold the Games; the government is leading a series of Coordination Meetings for COVID-19 Countermeasures and is implementing thorough infection countermeasures in order to be able to hold the Games.

“All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the IOC and the IPC are fully focused on hosting the Games this summer. We hope that daily life can return to normal as soon as possible, and we will continue to make every effort to prepare for a safe and secure Games.”

Response From the International Paralympic Committee

The Paralympics are due to take place from 24 August – 5 September and the International Paralympic Committee released a detailed statement, stating:

“Following Friday’s (22 January) media speculation about the cancellation of Tokyo 2020 which was triggered by an anonymous source offering personal views, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has made the following statement:

“The IPC, IOC, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and all delivery partners are fully committed and focussed on delivering safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. This position has not changed and has been confirmed once again today by the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and the Japanese government.

IPC new logo 1

Photo Courtesy: IPC

“Since last March’s postponement, everyone involved in the delivery of the Games has been working tirelessly to develop COVID-19 countermeasures and plans which we believe will mitigate the risk for the athletes, all Games stakeholders and, importantly, the Japanese public.

“In early February, the IOC, IPC and Tokyo 2020 will publish the first editions of Playbooks targeting Games stakeholders. These Playbooks will start to explain exactly how we aim to deliver this summer’s event and outline the personal responsibilities each person attending the Games must follow to ensure safe and secure Games.

“Compared to March 2020, we now know much more about how the COVID-19 virus behaves, much more about how to organise safe sport events during a pandemic and are encouraged by the international roll-out of several vaccines.

“By the time of the Games this summer, we are optimistic that daily case numbers will be much lower than during these dark winter months. We are also confident that the extensive testing programme to be implemented before, during and after the Games – one of several measures that will be taken targeting Games stakeholders – will help minimise the risk of virus transmission. Finally, each sport event that has taken place globally since the outbreak of the virus has provided us all with valuable learning experiences which are helping to continually shape our plans for Tokyo.

“There is no doubt the Tokyo 2020 Games will be very different to any previous Games and that this summer’s event looks a long way off right now. However, we believe that with the robust measures and plans we have in place, the Games can and will go ahead safely.”

Australian And US Olympic Committees Refute Reports

That followed the statements released by the Australian and United States Olympic Committees refuting the reports, indicating that any cancellation would come from the International Olympic Committee.

The USOPC wrote:

“Any official communication on the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will come from the IOC, Tokyo Organizing Committee and the Japanese government.

“We have not received any information suggesting the Games will not happen as planned, and our focus remains on the health and preparedness of Team USA athletes ahead of the Games this summer.”

Australian Olympic Committee chef de mission for the 2021 Games Ian Chesterman also insisted the report was nothing more than a rumour when speaking on radio Friday in Australia, according to news.com.au.

The AOC released the statement below:

“Both Japanese Prime Minister (YoshihideSuga and IOC President Bach have this week strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the Tokyo Olympic Games going ahead in July this year,” the statement read.

“The AOC is continuing its planning to ensuring the Australian Olympic Team arrives in Tokyo, competes and returns home safe and COVID-free.

“The AOC, Federal Government, Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council are continuing to progress the candidature for the Olympic Games to be held in Queensland in 2032  – and that process continues.”

Report Claims Tokyo Are Looking At Hosting In 2032

The Times also said that Japan hoped to land the 2032 Olympics with Paris and Los Angeles already chosen as hosts for 2024 and 2028 respectively.

Brisbane, Australia, has already expressed an interest in bidding for 2032  as have Germany, Spain, India, Indonesia and a joint bid from North and South Korea.

It is hard to envisage Tokyo waiting a further 11 years given the $25billion already sunk into hosting these Games.

There is the cost of maintaining the venues and in all probability having to construct new ones along with the Athletes’ Village which is to be renovated and sold as apartments.

Athletes Respond To Mounting Speculation

It has to be remembered that without the athletes, there are no Olympics. Or world championships. Or anything at all.

While speculation mounts and swirls, they must keep on training, eyes focused firmly on the Olympics – which as of today will begin on 23 July.

Coaches too are in an unprecedented position, having to steer the athletes through the noise while themselves contending with the uncertainty.

James Guy, who won two silver relay medals at Rio 2016, recently posted on social media:

Alice Dearing, the former junior world open water champion, will become the first black woman to represent Team GB in the water should she negotiate the Olympic 10k qualifier scheduled for May in Fukuoka.

She took a proactive approach to the current speculation as she posted to social media on Friday, saying:


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