The International Olympic Committee [IOC] President Thomas Bach has stated that relocating the postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games to another city “is not possible” following reports that Florida has offered to host if Tokyo backs out due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to 200 journalists during a virtual press conference on Wednesday after an IOC Executive Board meeting, which focused largely on preparations for Tokyo 2020, Bach reiterated the IOC’s commitment towards the delivery of a “successful and safe” Games in Tokyo, adding that the many speculations about whether or not the Games will go ahead have only been hurtful.

“Nobody at this moment can predict the health situation in the 206 National Olympic Committees for the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games from late July until September of this year, not even the most prominent scientists in this area. This leads naturally, you may also say, unfortunately, to many speculations. But all these speculations are hurting the athletes in their preparations, who already have to overcome the challenges in their daily training and competition with all the restrictions they are facing, either in their country or when it comes to traveling.

“So there is a speculation about cancellation, about a plan B, about everything. Some even make the proposal to postpone the Olympic Games in Tokyo to the year 2032. I want to say good luck if you want to discuss this with an athlete that is preparing for the Olympic Games 2021.

“There are some proposals to move it to another city, which for everybody who knows about the complexity of the Olympic Games is not possible during such a short period of time.

“For all these reasons, we are not losing our time and energy on speculations, but we are fully concentrating on the Opening Ceremony of the 23rd of July this year.

“We are not speculating whether the Games are taking place. We are working on how the Games will take place.”

On January 25, Florida’s chief financial officer Jimmy Patronis shared on Twitter that he had sent a letter to the IOC, “pitching” Florida as a potential replacement host for Tokyo 2020. “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 said. Bach, however, said he had not received such letter.

The IOC President said in the last couple of days he had consultation calls with the International Federations, the National Olympic Committees and got reports from the athletes representatives, who all gave assurances of their commitment to Tokyo 2020.

“All 206 NOCs, all the IFs and the athletes are standing behind these Olympic Games,” Bach reckoned. “The same commitment we see on the Japanese side with the Japanese Government, the Organising Committee and the Japanese Olympic Committee.”

Bach highlighted that COVID-19 countermeasures for multiple scenarios have been put together for Tokyo 2020, but “it is too early” to say which of them would be appropriate for the Games. The first version of the “playbooks”, which will explain the measures for the different stakeholder groups, would be available early next month. The playbooks will be updated constantly.

“We are gaining even more confidence from the effectiveness of the countermeasures which are being applied right now at sports events across the world,” Bach said. “We have seen this during the winter season. More than 7,000 events have been organised by the International Federations with 175,000 COVID tests, and only 0.18 were positive.”

Having fewer events or athletes in Tokyo is not part of the plan for the Games, according to Bach. “We are working on the basis of having all athletes in Tokyo for all events. We won’t destroy the Olympic dream of any athlete. We have to concentrate on the essentials. These are the field of play and a fair and safe competition. This is why I’m saying we are fighting this fight against the virus for and like the Olympic athletes.”

Regarding the athlete quota places for Tokyo, IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell explained that 61 per cent have already been allocated. It was 57 per cent at the time the Games were postponed in March last year. 25 per cent will be assigned during the remaining qualification period, while the final 14 per cent will be selected based on rankings as per the respective qualification system for each sport.

Commenting on vaccination, Bach reiterated that it is part of the countermeasures in place for Tokyo and everyone is encouraged to accept the jab, but athletes should not jump the queue.

Source: AIPS Media