IOC's Coates: Even postponed by 12 months, Tokyo games still face problems
John Coates, the head of the International Olympic Committee's coordination commission for the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has said the games' organisers will face "real problems" caused by the raging coronavirus pandemic.
The Tokyo games, originally due to take place in the Japanese capital in July and August this year, were postponed by 12 months in March due to the pandemic’s onset in the Far East, and are now scheduled for 23 July to 8 August 2021.
However, Coates (pictured) has now admitted to media that even with the postponement, he anticipated “a very different games to what we’re used to.”
Coates, also president of the Australian Olympic Committee, said: “We can’t postpone it again and we have to assume that there won’t be a vaccine or, if there is a vaccine, it won’t be sufficient to share around the world.
“We’ve got real problems because we’ve got athletes having to come from 206 different nations.”
The most commonly-used timeline for a reliable vaccine going into worldwide circulation suggests that at the earliest, one might be available for distribution by next summer, although timescales do vary from country to country.
Earlier this week, Thomas Bach, the IOC’s president, said that if the games cannot take place next summer, then a total cancellation would be likely and understandable.
Japan’s president, Shinzo Abe, has previously said that next summer represents “the last option”, and that the event cannot be held at all unless the virus is to a large degree under control.
Coates has now said that by October, organisers will need to start planning for what the games might have to look like if the virus has not been completely eradicated by then.
He said: “By October, if there are signs that it’s being contained but not eradicated, then we will start to work through… the different scenarios by which it could take place.”
There would be multiple logistical questions associated with that, according to Coates: “Do we quarantine the Olympic Village? Do all athletes go into quarantine when they get there? Do we restrict having spectators at the venues?”
Coates added: “We’ll have a whole range of scenarios we’ll start to address this year.”
Bach said earlier this week that a behind-closed-doors games “is not what we want.”
Last week, the IOC for the first time outlined the costs it will bear for the one year postponement of the Tokyo games, announcing a bill of up to $800 million.
Some $650 million will go towards the organisation of the games next year, and $150 million to support international federations and national Olympic committees.
Japanese reports have estimated the delay will add around $2.8 billion to the games’ original budget of $12.6 billion.