TOKYO – Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto on Thursday denounced claims that the IOC will have the Olympic Games canceled if it cannot be held in 2021.
In an interview with the BBC earlier, IOC President Thomas Bach said that the Games might be canceled if the coronavirus cannot be controlled next year.
“You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations. You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty,” Bach said.
That actually echoed the view of Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori, who told Japan Nikkan Sports Daily last month when he was asked the same question. “In that case, it’s canceled,” Mori said.
But Muto told reporters in an online news conference that there is no “common understanding” between the IOC and Tokyo 2020 about canceling the Games beyond 2021.
“Mr. Mori was trying to say is that we should have the mentality to prepare the Games so that it can take place next year,” Muto said.
“I don’t think they have a common understanding about cancelling the Games.”
Asked if the Games could be held behind closed doors, Muto said, “We have more than one year until the Games, it is too early to have such discussion.”
“We need to carry out measures to fight COVID-19,” he said. “However, we don’t believe it is the time to answer specific questions related to countermeasures.”
In the interview, Bach said staging the Games without fans is just “speculation”.
“This is not what we want,” Bach said. “Because the Olympic spirit is about also uniting the fans and this is what makes the Games so unique that they’re in an Olympic Stadium, all the fans from all over the world are together.
“But when it then would come to the decision… I would ask you to give me some more time for consultation with the athletes, with the World Health Organization, with the Japanese partners.”
The Olympic Games was postponed by one year and will be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021.