Tokyo Olympics Will Happen ‘With or Without COVID,’ IOC VP Says

The 2021 Olympics will be “the games that conquered” COVID-19, IOC VP John Coates says

The 2021 Tokyo Olympics will occur “with or without COVID,” IOC VP John Coates told AFP on Monday. His comments come after the games, originally scheduled for to begin last July, were pushed back one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The “theme,” Coates said, was initially going to be “the Reconstruction Games after the devastation of the tsunami,” referring to the devastating tsunami and earthquake that hit Tohoku in 2011. Nearly 16,000 people were killed in the disaster.

“Now very much these will be the games that conquered COVID, the light at the end of the tunnel,” Coates said.

Both Japanese and Olympic officials have said the Tokyo Games will not be postponed past next summer. Coates reiterated to AFP that opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021.

The Tokyo Games were postponed in March, just as the pandemic was hitting the U.S. Coates said the postponement has created a “monumental task” for organizers, as they work to ensure the safety of the 206 teams — totaling about 11,000 athletes — planning on participating. On top of that, officials are also juggling a number of smaller concerns, including making sure the TV broadcasts of the Tokyo Olympics are ready to go.

“Some countries will have [COVID] under control, some won’t. We’ll have athletes therefore coming from places where it’s under control and some where it is not,” Coates said.

A group of Japanese and IOC officials met last week to develop a list of coronavirus countermeasures, including testing upon entry into Japan, health checks and traffic control. Japan’s borders are currently closed to most foreign nations.