SYDNEY: International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates was adamant Saturday that nothing could stop the Tokyo Olympics from going ahead, despite ongoing risks from Covid-19.
Asked by AFP if there was any scenario in which the Games, which are due to start in July, could be cancelled or postponed again at this late stage, he replied: “No, there’s not.
“The prime minister of Japan said that to the president of the United States two or three weeks ago, he continues to say that to the IOC.
“We’re working with him (Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga) on all of the safety measures. It’s going ahead.”
Suga held talks with US leader Joe Biden in April and stressed the Asian nation was doing everything possible to contain Covid-19 infections and hold a “safe and secure” Olympics.
But questions continue to be raised about the viability of the Games, given the ongoing pandemic and a virus state of emergency in Tokyo and other parts of Japan being extended on Friday.
Coates, who heads the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Games, said a huge amount of work had been done to ensure the safety of athletes and the Japanese public.
“We spent the first half of last year identifying all the worst-case scenarios,” he told reporters in Sydney on the sidelines of the Australian Olympic Committee’s annual general meeting.
“We spent the next six months looking at the countermeasures that are necessary.
“We’re implementing those countermeasures, predicated on there being no vaccine, so that situation has improved. The Games will go ahead.”
US drug giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Thursday announced a deal with the IOC to provide vaccines to competitors and staff at the Games, which Coates said was a major step.
“All of the precautions that we have been taking are aimed at the health of the athletes and the health of the people of Japan,” he said.
“We’ve put an amazing amount of work into the procedures that ensure the safety of the athletes through testing […] boosted now by all athletes around the world now having access to the vaccine.”